Moving on from his previous campaigns to open the economy early, against the tide of scientific advice but using instead the views of individuals with with a vested interest in doing so, his latest takes the opportunity to join the playground chants suggesting that the SNP has failed to narrow the gap on attainment before comparing state and private responses based on one teacher working in the state sector while sending her children to a private school.
First, on attainment, Cook relies on one source:
The SNP says progress has been made but a report last month from public spending watchdog Audit Scotland concluded that “the poverty-related attainment gap remains wide and existing inequalities have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Cook completely misses or ignores the wider picture which his readers deserved to read and which friend of TuS, Leah Gunn Barrett, put succinctly in a letter to the Scotsman responding to similar confusion promoted by Labour MP Ian Murray:
Ian Murray (March 25) misses the connection between education and levels of poverty and inequality, which the pandemic has exacerbated. While the Scottish Government has mitigated these negative impacts using the limited powers under devolution, the education attainment gap mirrors the wider societal income and wealth gaps that have grown under years of Tory austerity.
Nevertheless, the Scottish Government has halved the gap between children from the most and least deprived communities since 2009/10. More pupils are leaving school with passes at Higher Level of better, and more from both backgrounds are heading to positive destinations. In August, the BBC reported that the learning gap between England’s richest and poorest students widened for the first time since 2007, whereas Scotland reported improvements in literacy. As for higher education, because it believes in the ability to learn not the ability to pay, the Scottish Government abolished tuition fees in 2008 while Labour introduced them in 1998.
Schools don’t operate in a vacuum, but within the wider context of society, which under the Tories has grown increasingly unequal. In order to build a fairer society, Scotland must first break from a Union that has stolen our wealth and suppressed our potential for too long. It’s too bad Scottish Labour doesn’t understand this.
Then, in a further, bizarre attempt to undermine the Scottish Government’s achievements, Cook tells us:
Jaspreet Kaur is in a good position to compare the public and private sectors. She teaches chemistry at a state school in Glasgow while paying for her children to attend a private school in the city. She insists the quality of education being provided by the state is good but she also reckons the private sector’s access to greater resources during the pandemic helped it to respond more nimbly in the switch to online learning. Teachers in the private sector, she said, were generally more IT-literate with better access to computers and tablets so “when it came to delivering lessons online, private schools were already a step ahead”. While her state school was offering one live lesson per week, she explained, her daughter was able to benefit from face-to-face online tuition every day. There has already been a noticeable increase in the attainment gap as a result of the pandemic, says Jaspreet, with pupils’ abilities, motivation, IT skills, access to technology and parental involvement in their education all playing a part in whether they are pulling ahead, remaining static or falling behind. She does not see any reason why state schools should not be able to provide the same level of support which private schools have been able to offer over the past year.
So, one teacher of undisclosed experience and qualifications is competent to make this judgement and to share it with us? One teacher happy to take advantage of secure employment in the state sector, does not trust it to educate her children and we are expected to trust her? One teacher who does not know why fee-paying schools can afford more personal tuition than state schools? They have always done so, assisting their pupils into university places ahead of the rest.
Propaganda based on shoddy journalism.