Both BBC Scotland and the ‘pro-Independence’ Sunday National use unpublished or unreliable evidence to accuse Scottish schools of ‘unlawful’ actions


At 06:27 and five more times this morning, BBC Scotland News headlined:

Over a third of children with autism have been unlawfully excluded from school in the past two years’

There you have it – this morning’s daily dose of scaremongering to keep No voters in their pens. I’ve searched and searched but cannot find the report commissioned by three charities, on their sites, on the BBC website or anywhere at all. I’m itching to assess it! Dear readers, let me know if you can. It wouldn’t be the first time that one of you demonstrates superior information skills here.

Anyhow, see that ‘unlawfully’ there? That’s a serious accusation to be making especially when there’s no apparent source to check for it’s reliability and methods. Schools can, of course lawfully exclude pupils. Here’s the National Autistic Society’s own definition:

What is an exclusion?

The law states that a school or local authority can tell a pupil they can’t attend school if:

  • their parent is not following school rules, or is not allowing their child to follow them 
  • by staying in school the pupil would affect the school’s order and discipline, or the other pupils’ educational well-being.

This may be because:

  • of a pupil’s behaviour
  • an incident has taken place
  • a staff member who works with your child is unavailable
  • of health and safety reasons.

If you are told that your child can’t attend school, they have been excluded.

The school or local authority may use other terms, such as expulsion, cooling-off period or sending a pupil home. No matter what term is used, you should consider your child excluded from school.

All exclusions should be formally recorded and set procedures followed.

I really want to see what the unlawful exclusions were.

Though unable to find the source for the BBC Scotland story, I did find this, strangely (?), in the Sunday National two days ago:

‘The Scottish school system is failing our autistic children’. Young people with autism are being failed by schools across Scotland because they are not putting in place the support to help pupils with additional needs meet their academic potential, it has been claimed.  Charities and legal experts said “urgent changes” were needed to give children with autism and other learning disabilities adequate support at school.

There is only anecdotal evidence from one or two individuals here and absolutely no sign of the kind of empirical evidence you’d need to back up that headline. This kind of thing and the regular ‘critical’ commentaries by Fry, McKenna and Boyd, make me suspicious that the National may be a kind-of supporter of the campaign for Scottish independence but remains too-wedded to notions of journalistic independence to avoid harming it.




22 thoughts on “Both BBC Scotland and the ‘pro-Independence’ Sunday National use unpublished or unreliable evidence to accuse Scottish schools of ‘unlawful’ actions

  1. John September 25, 2018 / 9:03 am

    Your right about the National John , this is NOT an SNP supporting paper , nor is it an independence supporting paper . Since the launch of the Sunday National I have been looking at the direction it is taking , conclusion is they are taking the SNP and Independence supporters for fools .
    Newsnet are playing the Unionist Herald against the supposed to be Independence supporting National . The only thing wrong here is , yes , we can see by it’s headlines and output that the Herald is a Unionist supporting paper . Not so the National , we can see by it’s headlines and output it is wishy washy on anything SNP , Scottish Government or Scottish Independence , almost grudgingly giving a few lines of support here and there to keep sales going .
    What Scotland needs is a fully Independence supporting newspaper to counteract the Britnat press , The National isn’t it ! .

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Alasdair Macdonald September 25, 2018 / 9:35 am

    I had the same feelings when I read this piece on Sunday. I agree fully with the first sentence of your final paragraph.

    It was anecdotal and relied solely on rather hyperbolic statements by the parents of some children with autism. It is very difficult living with people who have some kind of disability and it can colour one’s judgment. It often results in intemperately nasty and insulting accusations, which assume a degree of authority because of their own experience. The statements are expected to be believed as unquestionably true. The media then use this as a stick to beat public (and it usually is public) bodies and to calumniate the people who work within them. In the main these are humane people doing the best they can, in the circumstances. (“Well, it’s not good enough!” roars the ‘journalist-cum-avenging-angel’)

    Advocates for such cause often develop an aggressive arrogance towards others. Recently, a comment I had made was dismissed by, ‘you have no concept of what it is like’. My mother was disabled and I know pretty well what it is like. On another occasion my comments were dismissed by a ‘pensioner’s-rights advocate’ despite being the only person in the group who actually was a pensioner, ‘because I was still healthy’. Anecdotal, of course!

    I support the aims of the Disability Discrimination Act and helped implement it. I am happy to work constructively to find solutions. But, what I do not want are insults by people who feel that they have some moral superiority because they have family who are disabled or who are advocates for disabled people. The case has to be made assertively, but aggression and insult are not conducive to changing attitudes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvonne porter September 25, 2018 / 10:57 am

      Totally agree with you. Advances have been made in that children with problems are helped earlier, and schools are dealing with them better. Westminster cuts haven’t helped, regardless of the fact that SNP have and are to the best of their ability airing our schools. As a parent and grandparent, I can see the improvements happening within the medical and teaching professions. While saying that I can sympathise with individual parents, its hard work for you, and teachers. But the suggestion by the unionists is a cheap dig at those who are actually making a difference.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Angela Mullen-Smith September 25, 2018 / 10:39 am

    The National is owned by an English Company and I did sign up for the online version I quickly cancelled it because I could not understand why an English Company was controlling another media outlet – I prefer this page, Wings over Scotland and the Wee Ginger Dug…..but it’s still an English paper distributed in Scotland

    Liked by 1 person

  4. William Henderson September 25, 2018 / 11:34 am

    Interestingly, like yesterday’s, this story has vanished without trace. Presumably it has done its early morning work!

    Drip, drip, drip…………….

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ludo Thierry September 25, 2018 / 1:20 pm

    Hi there – just for accuracy it is worth pointing out that Newsquest which owns the Herald and the National (amongst many other titles) is, ultimately, part of the Gannett Media Group which is based in and operates out of the USA. (Gannett media? – it’s for the birds!).

    The beeb suggests daily sales figures for the National (in late 2017) as 7,800. The ABC figures (very recently) estimated the Herald daily sales at 25,900.

    The newsprint industry is in the process of a long and pretty fierce decline in both Scotland and the non-Scottish parts of the UK. Can the industry survive in some shape or form? Who knows? – but there are investors who know how to turn a bob or three from industries in ‘managed decline’ mode – so there are likely to be newspapers around for a while yet.

    I don’t purchase many newspapers nowadays – but I still enjoy looking through a paper (out of habit, maybe?) – so prefer having the option of buying a pro-Indy paper if I pick one up. I actually bought the Sunday National and saw the relevant article discussed above but just rapidly skimmed it and decided it didn’t pass the ‘sniff test’. (Nice to see my rapid decision making process was pretty effective it would seem).

    Overall I reckon the National/Sunday National plays an important function in the broader ‘Scottish Constitutional Process’ as it provides an occasional ‘headline’ for the newspaper ‘headlines round-up’ which predicates so much of the news+current affairs coverage from the broadcast media (and which, conveniently, allows the broadcasters to flagrantly flout their supposed ‘impartiality’ by allowing the mega-wealthy individuals and Corporations which dominate the print media to dominate the broadcast news agenda also). It also provides an msm platform for some interesting Indy voices and barks (Wee Ginger Dug included) and helps some pro-Indy writers and photographers to keep body and soul together.

    I have no solid info but heard a mention of Derek Bateman having been unwell recently? – If the info is correct can I wish Derek a very speedy and solid recovery? – Scotland needs all the good guys and good gals in tip-top condition for the struggles ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Contrary September 25, 2018 / 3:39 pm

      Hi Ludo, I saw a tweet from Derek Bateman, and from what I could deduce, it seems his wife donated him a kidney! Serious stuff, and hope they both recover well.

      Liked by 2 people

    • johnrobertson834 September 25, 2018 / 4:54 pm

      National may be a kind-of supporter of the campaign for Scottish independence but remains too-wedded to notions of journalistic independence to avoid harming it.



  6. Gerry Roberrtson September 25, 2018 / 1:46 pm

    Sorry but as I have expressed on many occasions in the past this merely underlines my suspicion that ‘The National’ is not a advocate of fair, balanced and free speech that we all crave for in the media but simply was born simply out of commercial expediency. In my view the owners have simply jumped on the bandwagon that at least they will have nearly 40-50% of the population eagerly awaiting an honest and balanced journalistic approach to the news. I bought the first editions only. Unfortunately as has already been expressed I fear we shall not get a balanced MSM until after Independence.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Ludo Thierry September 25, 2018 / 4:12 pm

    Hi Contrary – thanks for the info regarding Derek Bateman’s kidney transplant (and kidney donation from Mrs. B.). Goodness me – serious stuff as you say. Can only echo your best wishes to Derek and his wife – and that they both recover as quickly as possible. Sounds like an amazing story to be told in due course.

    Congrats on your recent stand-alone post – terrifying experience isn’t it?!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Contrary September 25, 2018 / 8:25 pm

      Aye Ludo, it’s always a risk with John and his whims, I did notice you’d been keeping a low profile and keeping comments short to try and wriggle out of the blog-publish. I did get a prize though, a merit in extended writing or some such (puffs up in smug manner).

      Over two hundred reads though! How cool is that. I might have cheated there a bit, and put a link to it on wings – was just polititely telling Dr Jim that part of his comment was published, of course. No trolls, maybe because I didn’t mention Russia! 😀


  8. Ludo Thierry September 25, 2018 / 4:19 pm

    I’m sure John will be briefing us on the Scottish Health Survey 2017 data released today but, as an asthmatic(who has never smoked), can I just trumpet the sustained good numbers regarding smoking? (a very big chunk of the positive change achieved has occurred over the period of the SNP Scottish Govt.) Snippet below:

    The proportion of adults smoking has fallen to 18 per cent, down from 21 per cent in 2016 and 28 per cent in 2003. The proportion of adults that have never smoked increased to 56 per cent (from 50 per cent in 2003).

    The proportion of non-smoking adults exposed to second-hand smoke (based on detectable salivary cotinine) also declined significantly from 85 per cent in 2003 to 24 per cent in 2016/2017. The proportion of children exposed to second-hand smoke in the home (6 per cent) remained at a similar level to 2015 and 2016 (6 per cent and 7 per cent respectively) following a drop from 11 per cent in 2014.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 September 25, 2018 / 4:57 pm

      I’m not a briefer am I?

      Former boxer, current wearer.

      As I haven’t, someone else write it?


    • JazzerStix September 25, 2018 / 7:00 pm

      Hi again,

      Sorry, just ignore me: I read your most recent article about two minutes after posting the first comment. My apologies again.

      All the best

      Liked by 1 person

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