Herald Newspaper and STV News fooled by unqualified, inexperienced professor and Lib Dem supporter/MSP’s dad into attacking Scottish schools’ methods

*Update: I’ve taken the ? out of the title after a reasonable confirmation (below) that the not-so-good prof is actually the father of a LibDem MSP recently investigated for expenses irregularities: http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/our-region/edinburgh/corstorphine/lib-dem-msp-alex-cole-hamilton-faces-expenses-probe-1-4239214

Here’s the STV report:

‘Falling standards in Scottish schools has been partly blamed on pupils being taught multiple qualifications in the same class. A leading professor at St Andrews University says multi-course teaching should only be used where absolutely necessary. This month the [PISA] report concluded Scotland’s performance in school s has slipped to ‘just average’ compared with other developed countries.’

Here’s some of the Herald report:

‘A SLUMP in school standards has been blamed on the controversial practice of teaching pupils different qualifications in the same class. A leading academic said so-called multi-course teaching was one of the reasons for the decline highlighted in a prominent international education survey – particularly in science. In December, the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) concluded that Scotland’s performance was now “average” compared to other developed countries in science, as well as in maths and reading.’

Here are some problems with, David Cole-Hamilton, the ‘leading professor/academic.’

1.       He has done NO research into this topic or into any other educational methodology. He is a retired professor of chemistry with only chemistry research publications like: Synthesis of bifunctional monomers by the palladium-catalyzed carbonylation of cardanol and its derivatives.’

2.       He does NOT appear to have a teaching qualification or any experience of teaching in schools judging by his biography at: http://chemistry.st-andrews.ac.uk/staff/djc/group/david.html

3.       He works in a university (St Andrews) with NO teacher training faculty

4.       He might be a LibDem or even a LibDem MSP’s dad? 

Here are two more problems, with the Herald and STV reports, stupidly linking the prof’s ideas with the PISA test results:

  1. ‘Every PISA survey tests reading, mathematical and scientific literacy in terms of general competencies, that is, how well students can apply the knowledge and skills they have learned at school to real-life challenges. PISA does not test how well a student has mastered a school’s specific curriculum.’ The professor’s opinions are based on the idea that teaching Higher, National 5 and National 4 in the same subject, in the same room is somehow damaging. He has no evidence.
  2. The prof even tells us that, in wee rural schools, this is not a problem because ‘they know how to do it.’ Is he really suggesting that qualified teachers in urban schools don’t know how to handle different levels yet rural ones do? Again he offers no evidence and there’s no suggestion that he might be qualified to offer any in his cv.

Finally is the prof an unbiased commentator. Is he a LibDem? Is he even a LibDem MSP’s dad? I’m not saying he is but…………….

I see there’s an Alex Cole-Hamilton in the Scottish Liberal Democrats. See this on Facebook:

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP | Facebook https://en-gb.facebook.com/alexformsp/ Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh Western, where I live with my family Alex ColeHamilton MSP shared Scottish Liberal Democrats‘s video. David ColeHamilton, Jane Cole-Hamilton, Cathy McInnes and 14 others like this.’

Also see this letter to the Independent in May 2015 strongly supporting the LibDems:

Lib Dems pay the price of the Coalition

Sean O’Grady (“Ah, Nick, you could have been a contender”, 9 May) paints a picture of what might have been if after the 2010 election the Liberal Democrats had remained in opposition, supporting the Tories only when appropriate.

He seems to ignore two things. The first is the positive things that the Coalition gave to this country entirely as a result of the Lib Dems. These include the rise in the lower tax threshold, giving £800 to many people, although not the rich; making sure that pensions will rise at least 2.5 per cent per year; introducing 1.6 million apprenticeships since 2010; tackling climate change and creating 200,000 new jobs by investing in renewable energy; creating the first green investment bank; providing free school meals for all Year 1 and 2 children. None of these crucial changes would have occurred without the Lib Dems being in government.

The second is that, at the start of the last parliament, there was no need for the Conservatives to serve the full term, and they could have called an election at any time. If the Liberal Democrats had voted against the much deeper cuts the Conservatives proposed or measures such as the right of bosses to fire people for no reason, the Tories would have called an election, which almost certainly would have given them increased support and would have decimated the Liberal Democrats for bringing down the Government. We would then have been where we are now but without the raised threshold for tax, the pensions lock, etc. Nick Clegg was right to go into the Coalition, and we shall see now what it might have been like if he had not.

David Cole-Hamilton

St Andrews, Fife


Finally, for more on why PISA results are no use at all, anyway, see:


12 thoughts on “Herald Newspaper and STV News fooled by unqualified, inexperienced professor and Lib Dem supporter/MSP’s dad into attacking Scottish schools’ methods

  1. broadbield December 28, 2016 / 7:53 pm

    Lazy, incompetent journalism at its best. Dig up some obscure academic with a bee in his/her bonnet about something of which s/he has no special knowledge and can cite no empirical evidence in support of their contention. Education is always an easy target; because everyone has been through it they think they know all about it. I wonder if the good professor would welcome our comments on the synthesis of bifunctional misnomers… or whatever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam December 28, 2016 / 8:24 pm

      Broadbield, think your being charitable to label the journalism as “Lazy”
      That’s what the star turn at Newsnet does.

      It’s day after day of front page articles attacking the Scottish Government’s credibility. Often facts are omitted to achieve their purpose. It’s not lazy it’s an organised production line. Staffed by hardworking imaginative professionals.
      I’ll let you label the profession.

      Liked by 2 people

    • johnrobertson834 December 29, 2016 / 9:37 am

      I wonder if the good professor would welcome our comments on the synthesis of bifunctional misnomers… or whatever.

      Go on, impress me!

      Liked by 1 person

      • broadbield December 30, 2016 / 7:56 am

        As Henry Ford said: the synthesis of bifunctional misnomers is bunk!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ian Grant December 28, 2016 / 9:33 pm

    Definitely ACH’s dad. Met him at election polling station, and he introduced himself.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jean December 29, 2016 / 5:29 pm


    I love reading your work for the high standards of forensic and academic analysis and debunking of lies and myths.
    More power to your elbow as we forge our way to independence.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. hettyforindy December 30, 2016 / 2:00 pm

    My allotment courgettes are now just ‘average’ in size, compared to my neighbours’. Now, do you know what size my neighbours’ courgettes are? No.

    What he says doesn’t make sense. But then, that is what they rely on these people, that their mealy mouthed words make no sense is irrelevant. To fool as many of the people as they can, is the point. What they do is to undermine Scotland at every turn. Despicable attacks on Scotland, in the extreme.

    If we really think about it, given the austerity driven UKGov, if the Libdems, or Labour, or Tories were at the helm in Scotland, we really would be a third world country. They would be literally destroying education, infrastructure, SNHS, and the people who need state support in any way, though we know they are already destroying the lives of our poorest.

    Bedroom tax, Educational Maintenance allowance, student bursaries, tuition fees, prescriptions, bus passes, ILF, regulation of private let deposits, land reform, investment in wind power, and new essential upgrade of our infrastructure. Non of this would be happening, nor would Westminters horrendous cuts be being mitigated by a unionist at the helm at Holyrood, they would send £billions back to WM like the Labour party did in 2007 instead, ‘because we can’t think of anythjng to seond it on’. (!)

    We need a constructive opposition, not destructive ones.

    It does appear that the unionists at Holyrood are intent on portraying the Holyrood parliament as undemoctratic. I suppose far as they are concerned, it is undemocratic, purely because the SNP are the pilots. They will do anything to undermine the SNP, even though they know that they are working extremely hard against massive odds, within the constraints of devo-light, and constant interference from WM.

    Liked by 2 people

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