BBC Radio 4 utterly imbalanced on Exam cancellations


Reporting on the decision to cancel this year’s Higher and Advanced higher exams in the interests of fairness, BBC Radio 4 this morning offered the most disgraceful example of reporting.

Using two critical sources, passively accepting their tirades and neither challenging them nor interviewing any balancing sources, this contravened their published editorial guidelines and their charter requiring them to inform and to educate.

We heard from Dorothy McGinty head teacher of a fee-paying girls’ school describing the situation as ‘chaotic‘ and that regular provider of anti-SNP soundbites,Lindsay Paterson, agreeing with the description. Paterson then goes on to tell us that England is doing lots of things well and that Scotland is reluctant to learn from them!

Paterson’s astonishing tirade accuses the Scottish Government of failing the pupils but does not repeat his usual choice of ‘betrayal’:

Paterson and the Scottish media love a bit of Old Testament betrayal. In 2018, he wrote:

Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence: the betrayal of a whole generation?

and in the Daily Mail that same year:

Curriculum for Excellence ‘will betray children.’

And in the Mail again in 2019 just

Shameful betrayal!

Readers may remember  Glasgow director of education, Maureen McKenna describing that as ‘guff.‘

Why was the Scottish Government not given a right of reply?

Kilgraston is a Catholic boarding school.

13 thoughts on “BBC Radio 4 utterly imbalanced on Exam cancellations

  1. Educationalists who refuse to change can be part of the problem. They collude with a system from which they have most to gain. They benefit, so they are resistant to change. They are the ones who are supposed to change the system.

    Scotland has one of the best education systems in the world. Most universities pro rata. 15 universities 5.4million pop. Colleges and apprenticeships. Tradespeople can earn a comfortable living. Skills improve life chances.

    Westminster ConDems cut Education funding £6Billion a year from 2015 to 2020. £30Billion. The Scottish Gov has to mitigate the cuts. Supports student loans. Less fees than elsewhere. Gives grants to students from lower income households. 20% mature students. More students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Life long learning. More help and support for additional needs. Based on ability not ability to pay. Scotland was the first country to have tertiary education.

    Scottish ‘land of discovery and invention’. Chinese.
    ‘Britain a small island without Empire ‘.
    Scottish discovery shaped the modern world. TV, radio, telecommunications led on to the internet. Medical expertise.

    More could be done without Westminster chronic wasteful mismanagement. Illegal wars, financial fraud and tax evasion. Wastes Scotland’s finances which could be better spent on Education and essential services. Independence would make Scotland even better with more to fund education.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The claim by Paterson on the Today programme was explicit: the Scottish Government had opted not to implement the National Tutoring Programme in line with England because, in terms, it did not wish to acknowledge and import something good happening in England. His claim was made with zero evidence. Is this acceptable ‘expert’ input for the BBC nowadays from a still in post professor of education policy? I’ll leave a judgement of Paterson’s professional integrity unspoken.

    What was also notable that following Paterson’s assertion the Today programme interviewer immediately jumped in to say, in terms, ‘this must be very worrying for parents in Scotland that the decision on this educational matter by the SG (not to deploy an England-style tutoring programme) is political.’

    Simply, outrageously partisan interviewee whose evidence free opinion is then amplified further – for effect – by a BBC journalist.

    (Is this England-style tutoring programme being implemented in Wales and NI? Or are the governments in Belfast and Cardiff also rejecting an Westminster government initiative too?)

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Peterson’s two pronged attack on the Scottish Government’s stewardship of education highlights issues of timing and reluctance to share best practice . It’s curious that the Beeb couldn’t find anyone to present the Scottish Government’s case . Did they seriously seek proper balance here, or were they hoping that listeners would strike their own balance between two allied sets of opinion ? The Beeb is facing a crisis of diminishing audience figures but still has an indirect propaganda role feeding the unionist twittersphere . Luckily you’re here to combat that propaganda .

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Mr Swinney was interviewed at some length on Good Morning Scotland and if he were not available at the time of the BBC Radio 4 programme, his responses on GMS could have been broadcast.

      Some of the questions on GMS were ludicrous – by relying on teacher estimates are you not changing teachers’ contracts – Teachers are paid to teach, not assess?

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Alisdair I thought John Swinney had some good replies to the idiotic questioning. That last one took the biscuit. An educationalist acquaintance said it was the worst interview they had ever heard.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. As soon as I heard this yesterday I thought that the first response from the EIS to this would be: increased workload, teachers should get extra money.

        Sure enough in the Herald today in their article on this story the EIS were responding in terms of workload and more money.


      3. Another of the stupid questions related to prelim exams. Mr Swinney made it clear that the decision to hold prelims has always been a decision for individual schools, even before the epidemic. Prelim information is something that schools might do in order to make their estimates, provided the prelim meets the moderation guidelines issued by SQA. He was then asked, “Why are you forcing teachers to set and mark prelims?”


  4. The recent Ofcom review of the BBC found it was losing ground in Scotland, over trust and whether it “reflected us”.
    No one should be surprised.
    The BBC treats Scotland as a broadcasting colony, and milch cow for revenue..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Here is an interesting insight into the Westminster government’s National Tutoring Programme. This is the initiative mentioned approvingly by Professor Lyndsay Paterson on the Today programme this morning. It’s the initiative he claimed the Scottish Government had decided not to introduce here, in terms, because of partisan political reasons: it did not wish to be seen as adopting a good idea from England.

    Well it looks as if there is more to this, as the BBC interviewer – if professionally objective on matters concerning Scotland and its government – might surely have suspected.

    This is from the National Education Union (NEU) in England earlier this year commenting on the Tory government’s National Tutoring Programme.


    ‘Commenting on the launching in schools of the National Tutoring Programme, to be delivered by 32 organisations selected by the Education Endowment Foundation, Andrew Morris, Assistant General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

    “The Department for Education had the opportunity to set up a quality tuition programme delivered by qualified teachers. Supply teachers would have been delighted to help deliver it.

    Instead, it has opted for a cut-price scheme which doesn’t require qualified teacher status and pays any qualified teachers who do sign up far less than they should be earning.

    Many of the NTP Tuition Partners being announced today are commercial supply agencies. The agency system is associated with poor practices and low rates of pay. We cannot continue trying to deliver solutions like this on the cheap – any money which remains unallocated should now be given to schools or local authorities so they can directly employ qualified staff.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Headline: ‘Government ‘misled’ school leaders over National Tutoring Programme cash’ – Schools Week, 4 December, 2020


      “The government has been accused of misleading school leaders, pupils and parents after finally admitting that the £350 million for the National Tutoring Programme (NTP)  is for two years, not one.”

      “The NTP was unveiled in June as part of a £1 billion package to help pupils catch up following partial school closures. But even the announcement was fraught with problems.”

      “The NTP has been criticised since its launch. School leaders have complained it only allows tutoring for pupils in one subject ..”

      An article in the same online magazine has this headline:’ NTP providers issued funding threat over speaking out amid conflict of interest and cap concerns’ (by Samantha Booth, 6th Nov 2020).

      From a quick read of this article, this initiative reeks of typical Toryism!


  6. All part of England’s Westminster propaganda war against Scotland.
    Chief in the armoury is the BBC , nothing is checked for factual balance all that matters is the propaganda war on Scotland .
    All done to try and trick people in Scotland
    England’s desperate efforts to keep control of Scotland

    If you are Scottish they will pay you well to be a turncoat


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