Just as with the single hospital cases, among thousands and thousands too successful for words, morbidly presented, after ‘ambulance chasing‘ with opposition politicians, to suggest something wrong, so BBC Scotland’s campaign to find fault with an otherwise astonishing piece of recovery, preserving the futures of thousands, consists of reports like the above.
One student seems justifiably upset and, last year, would have appealed against the grades awarded. The story would not even have made the Motherwell Times but this year, it’s big news.
I seem to remember seeing two ‘A students’ in Stirling, similarly indignant, on Reporting Scotland. I’m sure there will be more but given that there are typically well over 10 000 appeals to the SQA every year, these are just tabloid shock horror stories based on trawling and contacts with opposition politicians.
As for the discrimination against those from deprived areas, that is very real but it does not originate in the schools and the assessment systems. The standards expected in daily school experience and crucially in assessment procedures are more familiar to middle-class pupils with parents and grandparents who know how to make sure their offspring succeed.
Pupils from disadvantaged areas do less well in assessment because they do less well in assessment. The system is criterion-referenced and so, to the extent that any can be, objective and fair.
The failure has been in the decades of inter-generational poverty and inequality experienced by working-class and deprived pupils growing up in homes with no quiet place to study, no books, no museum visits and crucially parents unfamiliar with and unable to help with meeting the expectations of the system they will enter.
Society IS to blame. More equal societies have more equal education systems.
Scotland’s failures belong at the feet of those politicians who champion the unequal competition in deregulated brutal capitalism and of those alleged socialists who have stewarded the Scottish system to the place it was in, 12 years ago.
Though hamstrung by limited powers over inequality, the SNP administration has at least narrowed the attainment gap.