The myth of the ‘struggling schools’

Scotland’s ‘struggling schools’ is another of the great myths based a handful of Pisa data which Unionists will parade before viewers and readers regardless of any rebuttals, again and again.

We’ve posted so many of the rebuttals, I lose track of them but the search engine on the blog helps me dig a few back into life for you.

From March this year:

First posted on Reddit by HandeHoche (not real name):

The SNP introduced the “CfE” exams in 2015, and – as someone who’s studied papers going back to 1997 – they’re undeniably the best in terms of layout, wording, reasonable difficulty levels, accuracy of results to ability, and marking structures.

Of my five classes I’m currently sitting, two have class sizes of <15, and the others are around 20-25. Remember when that was a big issue?

My teachers are extremely supportive and I’m honestly stunned by how dedicated they are, even giving their lunch time to talk small groups or even individual students through concepts they don’t fully grasp.

My school has never had funding issues, with every student getting multiple free textbooks home and high quality facilities for practical subjects such as PE, drama, music, woodwork/engineering, and home economics.

Schools are well taken care of, and the COVID response from Heads have been clear and professional.

Mental health of students is not ignored and there are multiple support systems in place which we are encouraged to use.

When my particular school had a big health scare a few years ago, it was brought up in Hollyrood, the school grounds were thoroughly tested without impacting teaching, and students, teachers and parents were kept very well informed. The results came back in a book-sized pdf that explained how the school was safe and the small ways it wasn’t up to standard were quickly fixed.

So I ask, what the hell are they complaining about?

From last August:

First, 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.

Second, some comparative figures with our so-successful neighbour:

breakdown of GCSE results issued by the Department for Education (DfE) showed the gap between disadvantaged pupils and others increased for the second year in a row. The introduction of tougher exams appears to have halted the improvement seen in previous years. Just 456 of the 143,000 pupils classed as disadvantaged by the DfE achieved top grade 9s in English and maths last summer, compared with 6,132 out of 398,000 other pupils.

Meanwhile, in Scottish schools, but never to be mentioned by Sarah Smith, the gap is closing. See:

‘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.’

Getting back to the glasses, read these and order a light pink tint?

Attainment for Scotland’s school leavers far greater than in England

Attainment gap widens in England as it HALVES in Scotland, but Sarah Smith lies again

BBC Scotland and Herald mislead you as exam pass rates rise again

Why Scotland’s supposed decline in School Science performance according to Pisa is really a good sign

Standing up for Scottish education as our media parrot Tory myths

Scots more likely to enter Higher Education than those in non-Scottish parts

Growing calls to allow ‘SNP’ education policy to be implemented and for pupils to be allowed to learn

Scottish school-leavers record highest rate of positive destinations ever

2 thoughts on “The myth of the ‘struggling schools’

  1. It might be hard to believe given my appalling spelling, but the RTPI actually trained me to de-colonise the curriculum from the effects of structural sexism and structural racism. That’s why I can honestly claim to be a bit of a critical, post-colonial, WOKE bloke. So I’m not just bumping my gums when I point out that our political class appear to have gotten WOKE theory back-to-front, and that schools can’t create social justice on their own.


  2. “Struggling schools’ and ‘failing NHS’ are the two narratives of the three unionist parties, despite the fact that the evidence does not justify such doom-laden arguments. However, the unionist media, the teacher unions, including the EIS and the teachers who wish to remain anonymous and The Ferret with the solipsistic statistically-challenged James McEnaney will continue to plug these BIG LIES.

    From a teacher union point of view, some people, perhaps many, will begin to think, if schools are so bad, perhaps part of the reason is bad teaching. Parents are generally supportive of the schools their children attend, but tend to believe the myth of failure and indiscipline in other schools.

    Liked by 1 person

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