Andrew Marr’s hatchet job Part 2

Again, Andrew Marr offered us a set of statistics, unsourced, to claim failure for the SNP ambitions to close the attainment gap in schools.

Leaving aside the obvious comment that it cannot really be done without creating a more equal society and that requires independence from the most unequal society in Europe, his selected statistics seem dubious.

Here are some more useful ones:

‘94.4% of pupils had a ’positive destination’ including work, training or further study within three months of leaving school last year, official statistics show. The figures also reveal that the gap between those from the most and least deprived communities achieving a positive destination has halved since 2009/10, with an increase in positive destinations for school leavers, from both backgrounds. Over the same period there have been increases at all levels of attainment – the qualifications young people are achieving. For the first time more than 30% of pupils left school with a minimum of five passes at Higher Level or better, up from 22.2% in 2009/10. The gap between those from the most and least deprived areas achieving a pass at Higher Level or better is now at a record low, reducing for the eighth successive year.’

Scotland’s Chief Statistician has today published a range of statistics, including those on school pupils’ achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) levels in reading and numeracy. The gap between the proportion of primary pupils in P1, P4 and P7 from the most and least deprived areas who achieved their expected levels in literacy and numeracy remains, although slight improvements have been made in literacy since 2016/17.,attainment-gap-persists-in-scottish-schools-new-figures-show_14861.htm

Here are some of the facts that would have helped readers and viewers to make their own informed assessment:


1 Pass rates up:

In 2020:

  • the National 5 pass rate was 81.1%
  • the Higher pass rate was 78.9%
  • the Advanced Higher pass rate was 84.9%

In 2019:

  • the National 5 pass rate was 78.2%
  • the Higher pass rate was 74.8%
  • the Advanced Higher pass rate was 79.4%

So pass rates up in all three exams painting a far more optimistic picture than those headlines.

2 Standards maintained to ensure credibility:

All exam systems rely on an essential process known as moderation to uphold standards. This ensures an A grade is the same in every part of the country, making the system fair for everyone, and across all years.  

As the national exams body, only the SQA can maintain the consistency and the integrity of our qualifications.

Teachers and lecturers applied their judgements against national standards and today’s data shows that three out of every four grade estimates were not adjusted by the SQA.

Without moderation, pass rates at grades A-C compared to last year would have increased by 10.4 percentage points for National 5, by 14 percentage points for Higher and by 13.4 percentage points for Advanced Higher – annual change never been seen in Scottish exam results.

Had that inflation been allowed, imagine the headlines.

3 Attainment gap narrowed

This year’s results also show there has been a narrowing of the attainment gap at grades A-C between the most and least disadvantaged young people, which is now narrower this year for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher than last year, or indeed the average for the last four years.

5 thoughts on “Andrew Marr’s hatchet job Part 2

  1. lets not forget Hatchet job part 0 where he repeats the same selective data attack as earlier on BBC breakfast:

    ABC Breakfast to John Swinney on handling coronavirus: In November fewer deaths in England & Wales per 100000 than in Scotland.

    Yes if you carefully select the week 12 Nov to 19 Nov Scotland has more than England but otherwise England has more.

    Rate over this period in Wales is far worse than either.

    Euromomo Excess deaths Z-score November wk 44 47

    BBC Breakfast is joining in the propaganda effort – they must be worried.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. John
      I am not threatening violence
      I am merely demonstrating the rules of the boxing ring
      If the other side try to hit below the belt and break the rules,which they slyly make up as they go along and make sure the referee never calls out the hits below the belt
      Then you whisper into your opponents ear what is about to befall them
      I.E.within the rules you will pummel them to certain defeat unless your corner throws the
      Towel in Or as a act of mercy the referee ends the fight
      Analyse what i say and it is quite simply fight by the rules or you are doomed to defeat
      That and nothing more tis what I wish to convey
      The days of the other side calling the shots dirty or not must be brought to a abrupt end


  2. It was pretty awful – It was impossible to pay attention to the subject as he kept on quoting numbers and stats without context, it was all so rambly. And, of course, we just know that they only chose any of the numbers for the sole purpose to make Scotland look bad – the only people Marr was convincing were the people that already believe it. Pointless exercise, all in all, from Marr!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. All part of the Westminster narrative that the few areas where the SG has responsibility have been a complete disaster and that the only solution is for Westminster to take back direct control of those areas.
    I haven’t watched the news from England since March so I didn’t see this but it seems to fit the current pattern.
    Watching the online SNP conference today,it was made clear by speaker after speaker that without control of our money,it is very difficult to have a health and care programme that meets our aspirations and desired outcomes.
    Devolution with London in charge doesn’t do it.

    Liked by 3 people

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