Untrue! FAIL

The headline is a clear lie. This was a survey of pupils’ feelings, not of the actual results of their time in school, in terms progression to further educational or career opportunities.

I appreciate that the researchers did not write the headline but they were no doubt keen for the publicity and approached the Herald with the bad news they knew they’d like.

There’s no account of the research methods in the Herald report but it’s in the University of Dundee press release minus, of course, the wording of the questions they put to 16/17 year-olds.

Lead researcher Keith Topping

In total, 1044 senior high school students who attended six schools from a single urban local authority in Scotland were interviewed. Each of the six schools served a catchment area featuring both advantaged and less advantaged areas and the young people were divided into one of three groups – high deprivation (474), medium deprivation (329), and low deprivation (233). The pupils were asked a set of questions about how confident they felt about continuing their education or getting a job when they leave school as well as their career prospects in the longer term.


First, there are around 280 00 pupils in Scottish Secondary schools with, let’s say, 80 000 in S5/S6? So, a 1.25% sample.

Second, all of these subjects were in one local authority.

Third, you ask a group of young people, all of whom are typically a bit anxious about getting a job or getting into uni if they’re a bit anxious about getting a job or getting into uni and you find they’re a bit anxious about getting a job or getting into uni? Psychologists!

Might the actual facts about their actual prospects and the actual facts about outcomes in recent years be more useful?

‘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.’


And, there is much to be pleased about beyond this obsession with the gap:

From Glasgow’s Director of Education, Maureen McKenna, who might know a bit about this:

This is a response to all that guff about things in Scottish education being terrible. There are a lot of people painting a very negative picture. We are not saying everything is rosy but what we are saying is that there are a range of statistics out there that point to another side, that create a different narrative.

 The reduction in exclusions nationally between 2006-07 and 2018-19.

22.3% The proportion of pupils achieving five or more awards at Higher or equivalent by the end of S5. This has almost doubled since 2009-10, when the figure was 11.3 per cent

44.4% Proportion of school leavers in the most deprived areas of Scotland achieving at least one Higher or equivalent in 2017-18. In 2012-13 that figure stood at 34.9 per cent

62.2% Proportion of school leavers gaining at least one Higher or equivalent in 2017-18, compared to 55.8 per cent in 2012-13.


One thought on “Untrue! FAIL

  1. Here’s a look at a cross-cultural, international, analysis of covid-19’s impact on education, using the “School Barometer” survey method. The aim of which was “to gather, analyse and present data in an exploratory way to inform policy, practice and further research”.

    COVID-19 and schooling: evaluation, assessment and accountability in times of crises – reacting quickly to explore key issues for policy, practice and research with the school barometer

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.