SNP praised for handling of school assessments during pandemic

Note how the Herald picks out the Ross Greer’s criticism first?

SNP ministers and the country’s exams body have been urged to apologise for causing school pupils needless stress and anxiety as they receive their official grades today.

The Scottish Greens blamed the Government and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) for exacerbating problems being caused by the Covid pandemic.

In the current power negotiations, is Greer going rogue? Has he been denied a cabinet role? He features in the BBC Scotland report too with the hysterical:

The onslaught of de-facto exams after Easter wasn’t a necessary requirement, it was the result of a near-total failure to plan for the effects of Covid disruption earlier in the school year.

We do hear from Oliver Mundell for the Tories but Greer is the star performer with the melodramatic quotes.

Maybe I’m just a very old educationist with nearly 40 years experience in school, college and university assessment but haven’t the weans and bairns this year had an easier less stressful time than any cohort in history? Tests in a classrooms set by folk that know them used as only part of their assessment and higher pass rates and grades all round.

Stress, anxiety. I don’t doubt the pandemic and the reduction in class time will have produced lots but I know that many students learn better on their own with the course materials which are so much better than in the past. There’s a pandemic benefit still be to be revealed.

We hear, thanks to our media and politicians on the make, of those who do prefer face-to-face teaching and, in some cases, perhaps only a few, who are taking advantage of this situation to try to get grades they haven’t worked hard enough for. Rushing to the media with their grudge is not a new thing. Don’t tell me that they don’t exist. I’ve met them and their parents.

And, if things are so bad, why are there no credible academic critics saying so? I said credible so don’t mention Prof Paterson.

In June, 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’

And, only 2 days ago, a report by the Institute for Government on the Department of Education’s handling of school assessment in England during the pandemic is highly critical and contrasts that with a superior performance by the SNP leadership in the crisis.

In contrast to England, Scotland and Wales both funnelled money through local authorities. A report from Audit Wales makes clear that the local authority route worked far better there than the arrangements in England, and the impression is that the same was true for Scotland. A report from the Education Policy Institute similarly concludes that families outside England: “appear to have had better access to timely and appropriate support. In Wales and Scotland, governments allowed a greater amount of local discretion in the delivery of support, relying on existing infrastructure and allowing responses to be tailored to the needs of families.”

And after reporting how the English Education minister, Gavin Williamson had tried to place the blame on the exams authority, Ofqual, for a failure to deliver, the report suggests:

By contrast, when Scotland had reverted to teacher-assessed grades, Nicola Sturgeon absolved Ofqual’s equivalent body, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, of blame, saying “we did not get this right” and adding that “I don’t attach any blame to the SQA for this. This is ministers’ responsibility.” The contrast could not have been starker.

Non-story again.

10 thoughts on “SNP praised for handling of school assessments during pandemic

    1. Seems to be just my other email address (used while on holiday) that’s been causing the recent problem. Was OK a while ago.

      Anyway – I see BBC News at lunchtime reporting big grade inflation in England, Wales and NI, with no mention of how much. Only had a patacake interview with ACAS.

      On first look, the Scottish results look fair to me, but Reporting Scotland seemed to find a few pupils (I mean learners) who parroted the “felt like exams” line.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Examination results have been issued in Scotland and in the other three nations today. The BBC New site headlines “Record numbers of A Grades” The BBC NI page also headlines in similar terms. And, for Wales, too, we have similar cheering. All three show photos of students receiving their results.

    BBC Scotland is relentlessly downbeat, highlighting disruption and makes no mention of the actual results.

    The front pages of the UK papers, where they lead with the exam results are again fairly upbeat. Scotland’s? Sour, with criticising quotes from the Tories and Greens.

    This reminds me of the time when Andy Murray had won a grand slam, and Kaye Adams, with a huffy grunt, sneered that he cannot be claimed as Scottish since his training years were spent in Spain and Florida.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. More clear evidence that the ”opposition” to the Scottish Government would criticise it for discovering a panacea for all cancers , solving the Climate Crisis , feeding the world’s hungry , creating a universal free energy machine and finding the Holy Grail in a Westminster cupboard marked ”Ideas for Better Government ” !

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Very strange John, wonder if you took a screenshot of the BBC Scotland webpage ?

    As of 1650 EET, a 1 hour old “Scottish results day: Record high for A grades as pass rate falls” is on screen which Alasdair Macdonald commented on 6 hours ago.

    I don’t recall seeing the next, yet 4 hours ago apparently, “Highers and Nat 5s: Four things to look out for on results day” was published…

    Is this HMS Sarah Smith’s version of flexitime, re-inventing history in real time?
    They must be reading your blog… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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