Today (11 August 2020) in the Scottish Parliament, John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary, announced a U-turn over the SQA exam result fiasco which saw hundreds of thousands of grades downgraded. In Parliament, Swinney apologised for “getting it wrong”, and has pledged to launch an independent inquiry into the scandal.
The YCL’s National Student Officer, Peter Stoddart, welcomed the Scottish Government’s U-Turn, he said “This is huge and shows young people that they are worth more than their postcode. However, it should never have got to this stage and ultimately the Scottish Government are hanging by a loose thread. The fact that Swinney ever thought this system of moderation was suitable in the first place, tells you all you need to know about the SNPs lack of faith in working class young people.”
“The only reason this U-turn has come about is because these young people stood up for what they believed in. Together with EIS, young people and teachers have demonstrated that they are willing to fight the Scottish Government over these issues. Its a real example of what’s possible when students are prepared to fight back.”
Scottish Labour education secretary, Iain Gray, described it as a “humiliating climb-down“.
Swinney said the first hand reports offered to him from pupils, and the images from campaigners in George Square made him realise he got this wrong. The degree to which this is true is suspect, given the Labour Party announced they were to launch a vote of no confidence in the Deputy First Minister over the scandal this coming Thursday.
Glasgow YCLer and school student, Emily Vaughan, who had been present at the demonstration in George Square described the U-turn as “a brilliant example of what young people can do if they come together and stand up for themselves. This highlights the power we hold as a generation to seek change. More than that it draws attention to the underlying issues of educational inequality that continue to exist in Scotland.”
However, the problems in Scottish Education are far from over as pupils return to schools this week continues as planned. The EIS union surveyed teachers across Scotland, 66% of whom, expressed anxiety and a lack of confidence that sufficient mitigations would be in place.
EIS General Secretary, Larry Flanagan said, “These findings issue a stark warning to local authorities and the Scottish Government ahead of pupils returning to schools from tomorrow.” He added in a press release from the Union, “There is significant concern amongst all teachers on issues such as the large number of pupils in each class, inability to maintain social distancing, and the need for the wearing of face coverings to ensure safety in some circumstances.”
Challenge News Desk