Teachers call for opposition parties and media to stop undermining ‘valid’ and ‘low-stake’ SQA assessment system

HeraldScotland: EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan called on politicians and commentators to support the qualifications process.
Herald: EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan called on politicians and commentators to support the qualifications process.

With deliberate deception, the Herald tries to fuel the opposition parties’ pile-on regarding the school s assessment system, the SQA and the new Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, describing it as:

SQA appeals: Education Secretary at centre of growing storm

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville updated MSPs on Wednesday afternoon.
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville updated MSPs on Wednesday afternoon.

There is of course no evidence of a growing storm beyond the media construction based on the words of opposition politicians and a very small group, unrepresentative, a handful, 1 or 2, teachers, parents or kids prepared to speak to the BBC cameras.

The Herald article opens with:

Scotland’s Education Secretary is at the centre of a growing storm over national qualifications after newly unveiled plans for this year’s appeals process sparked accusations that pupils are being failed yet again.   

This is a work of fiction aimed at helping the opposition parties in their pursuit of a scalp, the cynical plan to bring down Somerville just as they did Shona Robison when Health Secretary and as the have conspicuously failed to do, with Swinney or Freeman.

They don’t care about the pupils. They smell blood.

Toward the bottom of the article, 22 paragraphs later, we see this

HeraldScotland: EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan called on politicians and commentators to support the qualifications process.

However, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan called upon politicians and commentators to support delivery of qualifications for this year’s students.

“Although some schools have made use of SQA assessment instruments, teachers are able to draw on whatever evidence they regard as valid in determining grades,” he said. “Also, unlike high-stake exams, the evidence does not need to be produced in a one-off event and, crucially, the professional judgment of teachers will not be challenged by the SQA.”

When the EIS, the biggest teacher union criticises the Scottish Government, they get top billing, but here when they are clearly happy with the system describing it as valid and, crucially, do not share the view that it is particularly stressful for pupils compared to the ‘high-stake exams’

There’s the real news but not the news that fits the agenda.

12 thoughts on “Teachers call for opposition parties and media to stop undermining ‘valid’ and ‘low-stake’ SQA assessment system

  1. I wonder if the Minister under attack couldn’t counter by taking in a folder of cuttings so (s)he could say:
    “Ah yes. Is that from the Herald? I read that article too. Further down, near the bottom, it says…”

    Perhaps adding:
    “If the people concerned would care to contact me directly, I’ll see what I can do to address their concerns.”

    I’ve noticed in many instances you say that the Union etc was consulted. So in those cases I’d be tempted to say “Funny. They never said anything at the consultative meeting. I wish they’d brought it up then.”

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Unfortunately our SNP politicians are very poor when it comes to rebutting criticism. They need to reframe the argument in the way you’ve suggested but instead they always manage to sound as if they’re just making excuses.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I noticed.

        It’s my NSHO that they’d benefit from training in debating. A totally different animal from, as you say, “rebutting criticism”.

        They try to present facts and describe circumstances. This ought to be the right approach. I think it’s how good governments should work. So they’re ready for the way the Greens work.

        Governments should be held accountable. And the FM in particular, obviously is prepared to explain their decisions, deal with criticism. But, of course, that’s not what she gets.

        No government should have to think “How are they going to try to undermine these decisions?” – especially during a pandemic. But ScotGov does. That’s why I think debating techniques would help.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Good Morning Scotland went with this story, framing it from the outset as an inevitable failure and part of a continuing shambles. The pieces were laced with tweets from ‘teachers who do not want to be named.’ They interviewed one student who has been organising a pressure group based on the presumption the SQA is wrong.

    They then interviewed the Secretary of the Head Teachers’ union, who carefully rebutted every allegation, explained the system clearly and maintained his cool despite frequent cavilling interruptions delivered in the customary sneering and mock incredulous tones of Laura Maxwell.

    Later, Ms Somerville was interviewed and asked the same questions in the same disparaging way, with frequent interruptions. She acquitted herself well.

    However, despite these two articulate explications, they were followed by more tweets from ‘teachers and parents’, saying, in effect, ‘The SQA is pure shite’.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Shirley A S. did very well

      Maxwell is skillfull with her voice. After her naughty voice They always find a “Fun” topic to allow L. M. To sound happy and cheerful. So that the audience are left on no doubt that she doesn’t Like SNP reps. A female trait? Kaye Adams and others use this trick.

      Another attack will be along soon.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. They are so obvious, aren’t they?
        I deliberately don’t tune in to listen to their guff. Thank you and other posters for your diligence in showing us they are not improving. You are inadvertently keeping up their listening figures! That’s not a criticism, by the way.


  3. The English Daily Express with the Scottish front page ( that’ll fool them Northern British types , eh ! ) had the horror of some pupils facing a ”downgrade ” in their appeals as there Headline .
    As the Education Secretary was at pains to point out Yesterday to those recalcitrant opposition bozos , out of over 8000 and 6000 appeals at various levels last time only 8 and 1 ( one ) were downgraded.


      1. Downgrading has always been an option during the appeals and moderation process, since last century.

        Downgrading occurs when the TEACHER has failed to provide valid evidence to demonstrate that the student is performing at the assessed grade. In normal circumstances, this is dealt with at the moderation stage, and so, as you have indicated a downgrading on appeal has been as rare as hen’s teeth!

        The gripes from ‘teachers who do not wish to be named’ are due to Councils fulfilling their moderation responsibilities by requiring schools to send samples of graded pupil work. Usually, this confirms the teacher grades, sometimes UPGRADES them and occasionally downgrades. It is this which the whining teacher unions like SSTA and NASUWT are complaining about.

        Moderation is essential for the credibility of the system with the general public, FE and Higher Education and employers.


  4. I think in this case the media should be ignored completely and it is best looked at by the education professionals.Scant regard to the opposition party’s might help too as they don’t seem in the real world half the time.Mike McKenzie.

    Liked by 1 person

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