Education “rank hypocrisy” says Grahame

Tuesday August 18th 2020

Christine Grahame Michelle Ballantyne

On the left Christine Grahame, SNP MSP and Michelle Ballantyne, Conservative MSP

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Local MSP Christine Grahame has called the Conservative’s position on this year’s exam results “rank hypocrisy” – after the UK government was forced into U-turning on their decision by qualifications watchdog Ofqual.

In Scotland, Education Secretary John Swinney instructed the SQA to award pupils their predicted grades after admitting the moderation mechanism in place was the wrong thing to do. Today, it was confirmed that Ofqual would now award predicted grades to pupils in England after the UK government failed to take ownership of the issue.

Ms Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale (SNP) said:

“Despite calling for resignations in Holyrood, the Scottish Tories have been completely silent in calling for their UK bosses to be sacked.

“The Tories are guilty of rank hypocrisy on this issue, and voters will see them as the opportunists that they are.

“As a former secondary teacher myself, I fully recognise the real distress the exam process caused students this year which is why the Cabinet Secretary, John Swinney, took quick action to rectify it when the reality became clear. This has been the first time an exam diet has been cancelled in 130 years – challenges were likely, but I’m glad the Scottish Government listened to students and teachers to resolve it.

“Unfortunately despite this the Tories and Labour continued to play petty political games in calling for the Cabinet Secretary’s resignation in the middle of this crucial time regardless of the resolution. Indeed we had Michelle Ballantyne MSP saying on 10th August that “It’s clear John Swinney does not have the public’s confidence… It’s clear that [he] has to go”

“Gavin Williamson MP, the UK Education secretary, was meanwhile refusing to learn lessons from Scotland ahead of the English results being announced and chose instead to take a cheap pop at the SNP, claiming the restoration of teacher estimated grades was “rampant grade inflation”.

“Now that the Tories in England have been forced to U-turn on this by Ofqual after protracted uncertainty for students, the Tories silence in calling for Mr Williamson’s resignation is frankly deafening.

“It only goes to show that as far as the Tories are concerned it’s one rule for the Scottish Government and another for the UK Government, dependent on what suits them politically – it’s nothing to do with students best interests.”

Midlothian View asked Michelle Ballantyne MSP to respond Ms Grahame’s comment.

“Education is fully devolved in Scotland as Christine Grahame is all too aware. I was focussing on ensuring that pupils across Midlothian and the Scottish Borders got the results they deserved, not the results handed to them by the SNP Government.

“It is completely disingenuous to suggest that John Swinney took quick action to rectify the shambles he helped create.

“Despite protesting pupils and the concerns of parents, he refused to listen until his job was on the line in a no confidence vote. Only then did he take action.

“Christine Grahame also fails to recognise that this has been yet another disaster for John Swinney, adding to the long list during his time as Education Secretary – that is the crux of why I believe the confidence in him cannot be recovered.”

“This has been an extraordinary year for assessing our pupils across all parts of the United Kingdom and mistakes have been made in all four nations of the UK. This does not excuse the SNP Government’s attitude towards the situation and it certainly does not qualify John Swinney for any credit for his handling of this mess.

“Policy makers in all parties clearly have lessons to learn when it comes to developing these grading systems, and that’s why I will not take any lectures from Christine Grahame when it comes to standing up for our pupils on what is a completely devolved issue.”

Michelle Ballantyne is the Conservative 2021 candidate for Christine Grahame’s parliamentary seat in Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

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