Students prepared to fight Scottish Government on SQA results scandal

Zoe McKeown, is the Chair of the YCL’s Lanarkshire Branch

Yesterday (4 August 2020), Challenge covered how the Scottish Government and Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) had committed an clear class war against working class and deprived schoolchildren, awarding a significant number of children grades which were much lower than that which their teachers and preliminary grades had predicted.

This confirms what we have accused the Scottish government of for quite some time: that the Scottish education system, much like that of the English and Welsh, works in favour of a privileged few, and not the many. Countless numbers of young people up and down the country have now had university and college places snatched from them, after their predicted grades were slashed from A’s to C’s or even fails. This sends a clear message to working class children of Scotland that their education and their future do not matter.

The Scottish Government have attempted to dress this up as “methodology issues”, but surely applying sound statistical analyses to a socioeconomic problem and coming up with more socioeconomic failings shows an issue with the system, not the methodology used to analyse it. In other words, if the system is flawed in and of itself, then regardless of any external circumstances – like a global pandemic – sound statistical analysis only highlights these flaws; but does not contribute to them. Furthermore, an additional problem is that the SQA is a seemingly untouchable body, made up of civil servant bureaucracy which does not connect with, work for or answer to the people it claims to serve.

Nevertheless, committing such a blatant act of anti-working class bias against Scotland’s young people during a global pandemic makes it all the crueller. Where are the working-class voices in Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Engineering, Psychology, and countless other subjects working class children are already being priced out of due to unpaid placements and high registration fees for respective membership bodies.

News today has emerged that Scotland’s youth will not stand to be treated with such contempt and will be holding a socially distanced protest on Friday this week – August 7th – outside the SQA’s headquarters in Glasgow city centre. This is an excellent display of rightfully channelled anger at a system that has failed our youth, and we hope it results in meaningful change.

We need a nationalised education service that works for all, and does not discriminate on a postcode lottery basis. We stand fully with the young people going on protest on Friday to demand a fairer and more just education system, and to them, we say, “solidarity.”

Zoe McKeown

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