Education system that favours the affluent and penalises the poor

By Jim Halfpenny, of West Dunbartonshire EIS

With one stroke of its pen the SQA has reinforced the shameful, unjust nature of our economic and social class ridden education system.

Having claimed that this year’s school exam results would be formed primarily from teacher estimates it has betrayed that professional judgement by slashing pupil grades particularly among those children from the poorest areas.

The SQA with the support of the Scottish Government has exposed an education system that favours the affluent and penalises the poor.

It is not a coincidence that those children from poorer areas, in proportion, consistently do less well than children from more prosperous areas.

To be better off means to have every support needed to be successful at school. To be poor means to have limited resources, limited role models and the crushing weight of social and emotional deprivation. Achievement in exams can become one struggle too many.

So, what to do about it? Well, if you are the SQA, you treat teachers professionalism with contempt and significantly reduce the grades of many pupils, not based on any individual assessment but on the idea that pupils in schools from the poorest areas don’t usually do very well in exams and that will continue to be their lot.

Pupils from the poorest schools were downgraded by 15.2%.

This time teachers had the opportunity to assess pupils over a significant part of the academic year instead of having them judged by a two hour exam dash which has little to do with assessment of ability. Clearly a much fairer and accurate assessment had taken place…but not the view of the SQA with their limited knowledge of teaching and learning on a day to day basis.

Our education system has always been to the benefit of the middle and upper classes while consigning most of the poorest working class children to a continued life of poverty. Instead of certificates, maybe the SQA should just hand them their minimum wage and zero hour contracts.

This SQA and Scottish Government’s ‘school of falsification’ has destroyed the hopes of many children for the sake of ‘credibility’. Let us be clear, this farce has damaged the credibility of Scottish education and reinforced the class nature of our society.

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