Still on the matters of 2021 qualification assessments and their politicisation. On the Scotland page of the BBC News website today, under the headline ‘Scottish exams body to be reformed amid grades row’, we learn this:
‘… convenor of the education committee on the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP), is the only young person on the NQ21 group. He told Radio Scotland he did not feel listened to, and that his voice was “drowned out”. He said the views of young people had to be considered more.’
On the SYP’s own website there is a blog written on 3 June 2021 entitled ‘Appeals Process Fails to Uphold Young People’s Rights’. It reports a member writing this:
“We WELCOME (my emphasis) the fact that the process (of appeal) will be free and will include a direct appeal to SQA and that there will be support put in place for young people’s mental health, which are things we have called for.”
Then it adds: “SYP is a member of the SQA’s National Qualifications Group and have argued strongly in that group that the appeals process needed to do these two things, to avoid breaching young people’s rights. Unfortunately, the SQA have chosen to disregard those views in publishing their process and NOT MEANINGFULLY ENGAGED with young people in its development.”
The latter view of ’not meaningfully engaged’ was also expressed in an interview broadcast by BBC Scotland’s late TV news on Thursday. So I was surprised after all this negativity to read this, published on the SYP’s own website as recently as 1 June, 2021 below the headline: ‘Cabinet Blogs – Engaging Young People in Decision-Making’:
“I have sat on the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group, where I feed in the views of young people. I have SEEN WITH MY OWN EYE the importance of MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT like this.” (my emphasis)
“Every Thursday morning, for the past 6 months I have been representing young people at the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group. Ilse has been appointed to the Mental Health Equalities and Human Rights Forum. Daniella meets with the Scottish Government’s race equality in education stakeholder group. Cameron Garrett MSYP meets with the National Qualification Group every Friday. Ellie Craig MSYP meets with the Gender Equality Taskforce regularly and THIS LIST GOES ON AND ON.”
“Young people ACTIVELY INVOLVED with decision-makers by attending groups like these. Young people BEING PART OF the thought process and NOT AN AFTERTHOUGHT. Doing things WITH young people, and NOT FOR young people. It is things like this that matter the most to young people, not just being heard but being listened to and then seeing that their input has made a difference. Young people bring fresh perspective, a different kind of energy and valuable opinions. The progress of the Scottish Government in getting young people appointed to these groups, especially in the last twelve months when it was needed most, HAS BEEN EXCELLENT.” (my emphasis)
These contrasting remarks made over the space of a few days are to say the least puzzling. Is there a more common phenomenon in parts of Scottish political life at play here? In (apparently) signing up for a cooperative group process, involving multiple organisations/stakeholders/individuals, is ‘engagement’ now only deemed ‘meaningful’ by a participating member of a group when that member gets out of the process ALL that THEY want?
And if a group member doesn’t get all that they wants, is it legitimate to then ‘bad mouth’ the whole cooperative process as ‘not meaningful’ – notably, as in the present example, a process that your own organisation praised highly only a few days before? I’d be hugely disappointing if certain members of the SYP adopt the ‘bad habits’ of their parliamentary elders. .