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Another week of let-downs show education review must lead to reform

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The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, today responded to the findings of Professor Ken Muir’s report into Scottish education reform by saying that the Scottish Government will broadly accept the recommendations. This will include replacing SQA and Education Scotland with a new body by 2024. You can read the report in full by clicking here.

SYP responded to the consultation which fed into Professor Muir’s report after consulting with young people to ensure their views were taken into consideration by the review. You can read SYP’s response by clicking here.

In response to today’s news, SYP’s Vice Chair, Liam Fowley said:

Scottish education needs reform to put young people’s views and needs at the centre of their own learning. Perhaps the most important line in today’s report calls for all efforts to be directed towards realising article 29 of the UNCRC. For this to happen, young people’s views must be taken into account in the reform process.

So while young people will be happy to see the recommendations of Professor Muir’s report accepted, this must be a complete institutional reform and put young people at the heart of decision-making, not just a rebrand. Scotland’s young people will accept nothing less.

Liam Fowley, Vice-Chair of SYP

The need to include young people’s views throughout the reform process has never been clearer, as earlier this week, SQA shared the revision support materials that were supposed to account for disruption to young people’s education throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. However, young people have told us that the materials are inconsistent across subjects, that many of them are of poor quality, and that they don’t take account of young people’s needs.

In reaction, SYP’s Education and Lifelong Learning Committee’s Convener, Cameron Garrett, said:

Young people told us they were disappointed by SQA’s revision support materials. Issues they have identified include inconsistent guidance across subjects and the poor quality of support material.

We will be raising learner’s views with SQA and the Cabinet Sectretary for Education and Skills and asking them to urgently address these issues.

Cameron Garrett, Convener of SYP’s Education and Lifelong Learning Committee

MSYPs have also been sharing their experiences and the thoughts of some of their constituents with SYP’s Trustee for policy, Sophie Reid MSYP. Some of the quotes from MSYPs below sum up the sense of disappointment young people have shared with their MSYPs over the revision support materials.

The ‘study guides’ for humanities subjects are particularly poor, and my teachers in those subjects have told us that we won’t be using them, and that they feel what has been provided states the obvious e.g “read the question” to the point that it’s insulting – as if any teacher would not tell their class that. Coming from an underachieving school personally I am incredibly disappointed, and feel that this is the feeling of my peers in general. We were very hard hit by covid and it showed in the poor prelim results this year, so teachers and pupils were reliant on those support materials, and feel betrayed.

Daisy Stewart Henderson MSYP for Glasgow Cathcart

“All my subjects have little to no stody guide for these exams. It’s just a page and a half of nonsense that teachers tell us day one from stepping into the class. My teachers are not particularly happy as they feel we’ve almost been lied to. We expected real study guides. Half of the stuff taken out of certain subjects is the information we were already being taught and were excelling at and now it’s all been taken away. This has been nothing but a wasted opportunity and a let down to schools and especially the pupils this will be affecting. Not happy.”

Ash McGuire MSYP for Uddingston and Bellshill

“I’ve had a lot of my constituents contact me over this because the general consensus is that a lot of people actually find the content of the support materials quite insulting to their intelligence. To be brutally honest I’m furious too. The support materials themselves are extremely underwhelming.”

Marcus Flucker MSYP for Angus South

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