SECRET SCOTLAND: john swinney must make parliamentary statement on fiddling OECD report

By Bill Heaney

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Willie Rennie has today called for the Education Secretary Shirley Anne Somerville to make a statement to parliament about her officials “fiddling” with the international OCED report into Scottish education.

He is also calling for the government to publish all documents it retains relating to changes requested to the OECD’s draft report into Curriculum for Excellence.

His comments come after a Scottish Liberal Democrat freedom of information request uncovered the SQA asking the OECD to make edits to its draft independent report, disputing key themes and criticising some of the report’s content.  Previously the minister said they would only be fact checking the report.

Education Secretary Shirley Anne Somerville and LibDem Willie Rennie.

A year ago Scottish Liberal Democrats first uncovered that the Scottish Government was in possession of the draft OECD report, highlighting that ministerial editing was underway on the document which John Swinney insisted couldn’t be published until after the election.

The Scottish Government has so far refused to provide documents showing what edits were requested by ministers and Scottish Government officials and have made bizarre claims that to do so would ‘prejudice substantially relations between the UK and any international organisation’. The matter has now been referred to the Information Commissioner. Willie Rennie want the new Education Secretary to be open and transparent.

Willie Rennie commented:  “The Scottish Government have been caught red handed.  They promised they were only fact checking the report but it is now clear they were seeking a major rewrite.

“The documents that Scottish Liberal Democrats extracted from the SQA reveal the extent to which there were efforts to change the report’s content and key themes from those at the top of Scottish education. They promised they were only fact checking but now we know they were fiddling the report.

“This is why we need a statement to parliament from the Education Secretary to explain the inconsistency between what they said was happening and what we have discovered since.

“It has all become clear as to why John Swinney didn’t want the report published before the election as he wanted time to change its content.  The public deserve to know what hand the then Education Secretary had in this process.

“John Swinney’s secret edit log should be open for teachers, parents and pupils to see. The new Education Secretary should come to parliament and commit to unravelling her predecessor’s web of secrecy.”

Top picture: First Minister and Nicola Sturgeon look concerned about the OECD report.

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