Scottish education: Despite SNP spin, exam results are fresh sign of how far away we are from 'proper education' – Brian Wilson

Exam results have become an annual exercise in political spin-doctoring, which is unfair to young people who worked against considerable odds to achieve their goals.

Professor Lindsay Paterson has given a worrying assessment of the state of Scottish education
Professor Lindsay Paterson has given a worrying assessment of the state of Scottish education

The Scottish Government’s army of propagandists was despatched to tell us it was all a great success because numbers were up on pre-pandemic 2019. Hardly anyone agreed that this carried credibility.

The alternative emphasis was that with exams restored, outcomes for youngsters from less well-off backgrounds went straight back to where they were before and the attainment gap widened, not narrowed.

A 13 per cent drop in A to C grade passes for pupils in disadvantaged areas further loads the dice against those whose life opportunities are already far more limited. Teacher assessment offered temporary hope.

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Throw in such factors as the lowering of grade boundaries and allowances for Covid recovery and the impression is that the whole thing is a bit of a lottery – but one in which the more advantaged are predestined to be the winners.

That is not their fault. Nobody wants to level down. It is those, notably the First Minister, who mouthed off about “closing the attainment gap”, then did so little to deliver it who should be held accountable. Always the headline. Never the substance.

The assessment which should worry us most came from that reliable commentator on Scottish education, Professor Lindsay Paterson, who said: “Neither the courses nor the assessments any longer bear very much relationship to what a proper education should be.” So much for historic superiority.

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