Andy Robertson guffaws as headteachers’ union fails statistics test and New Labour hacks in the ‘right place’

The Scotsman

Quickly, former New Labour minister Brian Wilson and former Jack McConnell SPAD, Susan Dalgety have long rancid trails of nasty and ill-informed attacks on the First Minister behind them in the pages of the Hootsman. They belong on the right there.

If you enjoy badly-written horror stories with disgusting homophobic and misogynistic overtones, try here:

Most readers will find these upsetting.

Anyhow back to the Secondary Teachers Association which maybe represents 6 500 of Scotland’s 53 400 teachers, 12%.

1 711 responded in a self-selecting thus unreliable, ‘squeaky wheel’ sample, 26% of their members or 3% of all teachers.

75% of their tiny self-selecting sample said pupils has difficulty providing suitable evidence – 2%.

85% of their tiny self-selecting sample said it made more work for staff – just over 2%.

92% of their tiny self-selecting sample said it was stressing pupils out – nearly 3%

Ask any professional group if a change in what they have to do makes life harder and rely only on the regular moaners and what do you expect?

My daughter has just finished assessment at Glasgow University. The pressure and the standard of evidence she had to provide is way beyond that expected by our media of a survey by a trade union these days.

16 year-old modern studies pupils would laugh their heads off at the methods and the claims made by, in some cases, their own teachers.

6 thoughts on “Andy Robertson guffaws as headteachers’ union fails statistics test and New Labour hacks in the ‘right place’

  1. The SSTA is NOT the head teachers’ union, although it does have members who are head teachers. It is a sectional interest – the clue is in the title. They have always been very reactionary. Their raison d’etre is that they consider secondary teachers are ‘superior’. This was based on the fact that SOME – and only some – secondary teachers had university degrees. At the time of its foundation, most primary school teachers, were not required to have university degree; they had Diplomas from Colleges of Education (and were, of course, mainly WOMEN!!!!). Some primary school teachers, in those days had university degrees (my wife, for one), but, they did not receive the same level of remuneration as secondary school teachers who were graduates. For around 30 years all teachers have been required to have a university degree and all are paid on a common scale. So, the SSTA is an anachronism.

    Undoubtedly, there are some differences among nursery, primary, secondary and special schools, but these can be represented by sections within a universal teachers’ union, such as the EIS.

    The SSTA is not as reactionary as the NASUWT, which is predominantly an English union. The Scottish Section was formerly the Scottish SchoolMASTERS Association, which was formed explicitly, to oppose equal pay for women – who have always comprised more than 75% of the entire teaching force. They are TOTAL BAMPOTS, whereas the SSTA are just BAMPOTS. I use the term ‘BAMPOT’ in its rigorous academic sense.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. All that sounds a bit anecdotal.

    The SSTA is of course led by the same Seamus Searson, whose anecdotal comment you quoted some time ago –

    “The idea that teachers are being pressurised comes from an anecdotal comment by Seamus Searson, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association who, curiously, tells us that ‘some’ headteachers are pressurising staff to keep quiet and that:

    “We are dealing with over half a dozen cases a year of teachers coming to us and saying ‘we should have been told’””

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So once again a trade union fails to deliver a members’ survey in line with good research practice. Here are a few additional examples from the SSTA’s summary report of its survey results.

    Firstly, on responses on two related matters, it states:
    ‘76% of teachers said that teacher professional judgement should be the MAJOR factor in their assessment this year (my emphasis)’ and
    ‘38% of teachers said that the demonstrated evidence should be the SOLE factor to be used in allocating grades this year’.

    Notice how these two related responses are worded differently. Note the use of ‘major’ in the first – by implication, something on a sliding scale from should be the ‘only factor’ to should ‘not be a factor’. Note the use of ‘sole’ in the second – an absolute.

    One should consider the difference in percentage responses if the use of these terms had been switched around. Of course one term should have been used consistently in both cases and/or the survey should have used a form of question with a graduated response option and reported accordingly.

    The survey report also states: ‘36% of teachers believe the evidence that they have collected TRULY demonstrates their pupil’s attainment’.

    The use of the term ‘truly’ here sets a high bar. In situations like this it is usual to gather evidence of views by degree of agreement/ disagreement with a proposition. We are not told what percentage of respondents felt that the evidence collected demonstrates pupil achievement ‘reasonably well’, ‘not very well’ or ‘not at all’.

    The SSTA’s reporting of member responses regarding pupils is also ‘problematic’. The survey asked: ‘Have any of your pupils missed time from your lessons this term?’

    Absent further information from the SSTA, this would seem to permit a reply in the affirmative regardless of how many pupils missed time and regardless of how much time they missed. Remember that for a secondary school teacher or senior manager ‘any of your pupils’ will include ‘any’ from amongst a large number of individuals. Imagine asking an SSTA member this question of any term, in any year, about ‘any’ of their pupils.

    The report on the survey also states: ‘75% of teachers said that their pupils had difficulties providing suitable evidence.’

    But how much difficulty, how many pupils, what is the nature of this ‘difficulty’ and what is it being attributed to? After all, the aim of the SSTA’s members is surely NOT to deliver an educational experience in which pupils are able to provide evidence without difficulty?

    My gripe here – expressed not for the first time on TuS – is with poorly designed and poorly reported surveys by trade unions and other special interest groups. These then get amplified uncritically by ‘professional’ journalists in order to influence public opinion.

    I have no axe to grind for or against the teaching profession and their challenges with assessment at this time – what is happening may well need fixed. But poor research methods and poor reporting means that I (and I suggest many others) are left ill- or mis-informed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Scotsman, once a “newspaper of record”.

    It still is, only the record they play now, is …SNP-BAD…SNP-BAD..all year long.

    Brian Wilson who was a fellow Director of Scottish Coal along with Tory Grandee, James Randolph Lindesay-Bethune, 16th Earl of Lindsay. They left over a £100million of ecological damage in the old mining areas of Scotland for others to clear up.
    They also left their workforce pensioners with reduced pensions as they did not pay their proper contributions.
    Any contrition, words of regret? Nope!

    Liked by 1 person

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