Scotsman’s education correspondent either fails basic grammar test or fakes level of support for attack on SNP government. Union leader lucky to get re-submission opportunity.


(c) Seamus Searson

Today, in the Scotsman, Stephen Emerson, claimed that:

‘Unions call for Scottish Government to abandon Education Bill’


The Bill would see sweeping reforms to the school system, including the introduction of a new Headteachers’ Charter, giving heads more power over the curriculum, recruitment and budgets. However, the move has been strongly opposed by teaching unions.’

but then bases his whole case on the forthcoming speech of one Union leader, of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA).

I guess he had hoped to offer a stronger critique of the Scottish Government policy, then was unable to find another union chief to support the SSTA view and, finally, forgot to delete the letter ‘s’, twice. I know journos are working faster these days with fewer resources and so have little time for proof-reading but people (a few) are paying for this.

So, was it bad grammar or faked evidence?

The SSTA chief is Seamus Searson, is a man who has only taught in London, who then worked as a union rep in England and in Northern Ireland, and has only been in Scotland since 2015, but seems, nevertheless, to feel has his finger on the pulse of the situation.

He claims the legislation is not welcomed by the majority of the population. I’d love to read the research report showing this but can’t seem to find it.

He also insists the Head Teachers’ charter is unwanted by ‘many head teachers’. What does ‘many’ mean? If it’s 100 that would be ‘many’, but would it be enough to worry about? Once more, I can’t find any published research on this.

Returning to grammar and basic literacy, what does his claim that the national qualification for head teachers should be ‘without the workload heavy, bureaucratic and administrative nonsense’.

I taught on an earlier head teacher qualification course, many years ago. Does Mr Searson think training can be of any real worth if it is not demanding? Just what on earth does he mean by ‘administrative nonsense’? Does he think that a post-graduate programme can be delivered without detailed and accurate record-keeping? Should we get Blue Peter to run the programme?

Only in the last paragraph, does the Scotsman give a taste of the information that the reader would need to form an intelligent opinion on the debate, with this from the Scottish Government:

‘The majority of respondents to the consultation support the principles behind our education reforms and, as the International Council of Education Advisers said last month, the direction of travel in Scottish education is impressive. They also welcomed the recent establishment of Regional Improvement Collaboratives.’

This is a very disappointing piece of work. I can only award an E grade and allow one more submission before withdrawal from the programme is required.

7 thoughts on “Scotsman’s education correspondent either fails basic grammar test or fakes level of support for attack on SNP government. Union leader lucky to get re-submission opportunity.

  1. John May 18, 2018 / 4:13 pm

    Get your leather strap out Prof , he needs punishment for insufficient research .


      • John May 18, 2018 / 7:19 pm

        Ok , your dunce’s hat then .


  2. johnrobertson834 May 18, 2018 / 7:42 pm

    I was born in Duns, birthplace of John Duns Scotus, victim of accusation of being stupid by later church reformers so if the cap fits?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alasdair Macdonald May 18, 2018 / 8:53 pm

    It is now 48 years since I first entered a school as a teacher and, during that period every single innovation or change introduced to Scottish education has been knee-jerk opposed by the ridiculous, risible, anachronistic, pompous and reactionary trade union, SSTA, which has never represented more than 10/15% of the Scottish teaching force and with a membership restricted only to secondary schools. For as long as I can remember it has always said pupil indiscipline has been getting worse. Whenever there is a call to make teachers accountable it waves the shroud of indiscipline.

    It used to have a few Head Teachers as members, and it always claimed that HTs did not want any additional powers, yet those HT Colleagues whom I knew who were members reported that they had never been asked for their opinions.

    With regard to what was once the Scottish Qualification for Headship, I was involved from the start as a tutor, supporter and assessor. The course itself was rather ‘bolted together’ in the early years and was uneven in quality and demands. Things did improve in practice. My main concern about it was about the criteria for entry to the course. There were no rigorous entry requirements, and, much, perhaps up to 1/3 of the work submitted was mediocre. These candidates often lacked experience in schools, or, indeed, in sufficiently senior posts, many lacked the intellectual rigour required and, most worryingly, the quality of written work was on occasions poorer than that which was being produced by pupils in Third Year. However, the majority, but not as big a majority as I would have liked, of candidates were pretty good. I hope the course has been made more challenging, but I also hope that candidates are afforded more time freed of school commitments to focus on their tasks. I hope that entry requirements are more challenging, ensuring that virtually every entrant is successful in assessments of al least Masters Standard.

    Council Education departments do not have the quality of staff to manage education properly. This was becoming increasingly clear following the diaggregation of the Regions like Strathclyde and Lothian, which had some educational giants in their directorates. Those holding directorate posts in the current authorities lacked the experience and nous and, increasingly Head Teachers and their senior management teams were making more and more important strategic and operational decisions. By the time of my retirement 9 years ago, I had become convinced that schools really had to be run by their HTs and management teams, funded directly from Holyrood, but accountable to bodies comprising parents, councillors and council officials and other community persons. These bodies could be supported by a national support service drawn from what used to be called HMIE and staff from the university education departments.

    We need to give our school leadership well educated, confident, courageous people able to take big decisions and to be innovative. What the SSTA wants is weak, ineffective leaders who can be diverted from their educational work by SSTA members complaining about pupils not having sharp enough pencils, who are wearing make up, or who pursed their lips when some petty incompetent made some cavilling criticism.

    PS the EIS General Secretary does have a formidable intellect – he taught my daughter and I was impressed not just by his teaching but by his commitment to the extra curricular experiences of the young people.

    Liked by 2 people

    • johnrobertson834 May 19, 2018 / 5:38 am

      In this unequal propaganda war, all attacks on the SNP, the Scottish Government or any part of the Yes movement should be countered directly and with strong words. In a war where the enemy has the ‘big battalions’, any weaknesses in the evidence, in the logic, in the presentation or in the credibility of the attacker is fair game.

      Liked by 2 people

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