Swinney in Wonderland

John Swinney is a decent chap, tribal like all politicians, but a fully paid up member of the human race in my experience.

Yet so too was Sam Galbraith, Scotland's education minster who, back in the year 2000 was in the hot seat when another fiasco befell the exams process and caused an almighty political furore.

Twenty years ago Sam Galbraith paid the price - he was forced to 'carry the can' to use Nicola Sturgeon's words - and Sam stood down from the education brief because his credibility in that particular role was in tatters.

Twenty years on the same thing has happened to John Swinney although on this occasion the Scottish Government seems intent on brazening things out instead of accepting that the education minister is ultimately responsible for the unholy mess surrounding this year's exams.

Curiously John Swinney continues to insist that the SQA's moderation process was "perfectly fair" no doubt because the education minister himself agreed that significant adjustments in exam results were required to correct the wildly inflated grades that some teachers had predicted for some of their students.

Now widespread, double digit performance increases in a single academic year are completely unbelievable and only days ago the Scottish Government was absolutely adamant that such a big jump in performance would destroy confidence in our education system and turn Scotland into a laughing stock. 

Nonetheless the Scottish Government is now asking everyone to make-believe that students in 2020 have hugely out-performed their predecessors, in a year when the Coronavirus epidemic has badly disrupted learning and teaching in schools.

Astonishingly, no one in a position of authority has bothered to explore how this strange phenomenon came about - by sheer happenstance, by osmosis or via a well organised 'under the radar' campaign? - although one BBC journalist did make me chuckle when he asked Nicola Sturgeon if she thought Scotland's school teachers were "having a laugh?" 

In any event John Swinney decided to jump through the educational looking-glass, turn reality on its head with a short-term political fix which required him to eat his own words and accept the artificially pumped-up predictions of this year's exam results.

Sadly, there is no getting round the fact that the exams fiasco undermines the integrity of Scottish education and devalues the 2020 qualifications, since the knock-on effect is to throw lots of honest teachers and hard working students under the bus - when they could have 'gamed' the system' too. 

So in terms of educational integrity Scotland's 2020 exams results are a joke which is why despite his apology John Swinney should still resign his ministerial post.


Buck Stops In Scotland (11/08/20)

20 Years ago the buck stopped in Scotland, but what will happen this time around?


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