SQA unfair to disabled pupils - Readers' Letters

Further to Conor Matchett’s article “Campaigners hit out at 'alarming' John Swinney claims around exam appeal system” (7 October), I am struggling to understand why the Cabinet Secretary continues to shirk responsibility and evade accountability on the issue of SQA discrimination of disabled pupils.

Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 7:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 9:59 am
Has John Swinney got it wrong on exam resits?
Has John Swinney got it wrong on exam resits?

I had hoped, after his inadequate responses to the Education and Skills Committee on 16 September, that his back office might have availed him of the facts and thus allowed him to understand that the appeals process he sanctioned discriminates against pupils with protected characteristics under the Equality Act. I would like to see a process of appeal which is fair to all young people. It is a sad day for a nation which has decided to incorporate the UNCRC that they have a Deputy First Minister who finds it acceptable to say to young people: “We admit we broke your leg this year - we will try not to break the other one next year.” Mr Swinney – fix the broken leg. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

(Dr) Carole Dalgleish

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mosshouse, Stirling

Wrong direction

I can see where the parent group UsForThemScotland are coming from when they oppose the dropping of next year’s National 5 exams (your report, 12 October). As they say, it looks as if John Swinney regards those who leave school at 16 as less important than those who go on to Highers and Advanced Highers.

I can see the injustice, but I think the parent group is pushing in the wrong direction. The present system is unfair to academic and non-academic students alike. Why should a young person’s whole future depend on a single exam at the end of a course when, on the fateful day, the student may be off colour because of a cold or a period or some crisis in the family, not to mention nerves?

A fairer system would be a qualification which used a combined mark based on continuous assessment throughout the year and a final exam. Continuous assessment is now widely used in the universities themselves, so why should they and employers insist on a one-off exam for school qualifications?

Henry L Philip

Grange Loan, Edinburgh

Unfit state

Grateful thanks to David Stevenson (Letters, 12 October) for his vision of the Parliament of Saints which Indy Scotland will be. Signalling virtues faultlessly, Mr. Stevenson announces that "those who give priority to regaining Scottish independence largely see this aim as a means to combat poverty both in Scotland and in the world as a whole."

So not only will hunger and inequality be abolished in Scotland, it seems, but throughout many Third World countries, presumably starting with Malawi. Such generous foreign aid would be funded, I imagine, through squeezing Scotland's limited number of middle to top rate tax-payers until the pips squeak.

And, of course, borrowing enormous sums from the Fairy Godmother financiers at the Bank of Never Never Pay it Back Land. A Scottish spiritual empire stretching from Blantyre to its Malawian namesake. Scotland the Virtuous, land of votes for convicted criminals and where drugs are decriminalised, but where (thanks to the Hate Crimes Bill and a resurrected Named Person Scheme) free speech is gagged and parents routinely spied on by the state. Scotland: politically correct paradise and nae place for nukes, nor indeed, those 7,000-plus Faslane jobs.

How ironic to hear Mr Stevenson's rallying cry for patriotic saintliness at a time when his movement's leadership wallows in political scandal and in-fighting.

Martin O’Gorman

Littlejohn Avenue, Edinburgh

Season of witch

There is something of the persecution of the witch in the wholesale denunciations of Margaret Ferrier. The MP’s conduct was wrong, of course. Her excuses are feeble and transparently made up. But Dominic Cummings did not resign. John Swinney did not resign after the examinations debacle. Nicola Sturgeon has not resigned over the Salmond affair. These matters have many more serious consequences than Margaret Ferrier’s breach of Coronavirus rules. Covid-19 hysteria is compromising the usual processes of discipline, hearing, judgment and fair and proportionate punishment.

(Rev Dr) Robert Anderson

Old Auchans View, Dundonald

Covid hypocrisy

Nobody is denying that Margaret Ferrier was guilty of a grave error of judgment in travelling after testing positive for coronavirus. Nevertheless, it is unseemly watching the jackals continue to circle around her, with another two joining the pack in the form of letters from Dr R W Wild and Michael Baird (13 October).

Mr Baird says that "the Westminster parliament must act on a recall petition to get rid of her". A recall by-election can only be held if 10 per cent of an MP's constituents call for one and they can only call for one if certain conditions relating to criminality or parliamentary sanctions pertain. Apparently, this second condition is giving Westminster pause for thought. This might be because, as reported elsewhere, they circulated an e-mail saying that any MP with Covid symptoms or having had a positive test should go home immediately, preferably by private transport or, if necessary, on public transport wearing a face covering. Ms Ferrier apparently does not have a London home.

It's also interesting that none of the people calling for Margaret Ferrier's head were at all outraged by the conduct of Dominic Cummings, who continues to run the UK government. We're also left to wonder whether when Boris Johnson and his various cabinet ministers fell ill, did they drive themselves home or did they travel in chauffeur-driven limousines?

Gill Turner

Derby Street, Edinburgh

Imaginary story

I did enjoy reading Eileen Budd's letter (13 October) visualising an independent Scotland with thoughts of John Lennon's “Imagine”. However, I was quickly brought back to reality by Clark Cross's letter on the same page which reminded us of the many failures of our SNP led government. Not just the millions wasted on Prestwick Airport, rusting ferries and BiFab, but also the falling standards in our NHS, our education system and Police Scotland. When you add in our levels of drug deaths and fuel poverty, our government doesn't have a lot to boast about.

And when we factor in the less than acceptable behaviour of Derek Mackay, Margaret Ferrier, Peter Murrell and probably others, it is perhaps no surprise that we are in such a mess.

John Lennon's “Imagine” may well be the anthem of our First Minister when it says: "You may call me a dreamer, but I'm not the only one".

Jim Houston

Winton Gardens, Edinburgh

Be careful

I read that a third of Scots who voted “No” to independence may have changed minds. Am I to believe that my fellow Scots have been so taken in by those who put independence and destruction of the UK as a priority, that they really have changed their minds without real thought and discussion?

Nicola Sturgeon stated in 2016 “nothing” is more important than independence. On a daily basis I read separatists voice the same opinion - independence takes priority, they want it today. So, even Covid, child poverty, homelessness, drug deaths (largest in Europe), reduced life expectancy, economy, NHS, and every other aspect of Scottish life is of lesser importance.

Be very aware of what you wish for.

Douglas Cowe

Alexander Avenue, Kingseat, Newmachar

Never Waver

Regarding June Edgar’s letter “Off the rails” (12 October), British Railways closed Edinburgh's Princes Street Station, the city's other railway terminus, on 18 April 1965, and from then on, “Waverley” was to be known simply as “Edinburgh”.

Both railway historians and concerned citizens would have none of this - they would not accept the abandonment of the name Waverley.

A local newsagent organised a petition that soon attracted more than 5,000 signatures. Confronted by this grass roots protest, Waverley was officially reinstated as part of the station name. Blue Badge Guides, such as June Edgar, must insist that the station be known as “Edinburgh Waverley”.

This has a special literary resonance to honour one of Edinburgh's most distinguished sons, Sir Walter Scott. Nowadays the station is owned by Network Rail.

(Dr) I A Glen

Monks Road, Airdrie

Honour Jane

Alison Campsie's piece on Jane Haining (7 October) is a timely reminder of one of Scotland's very greatest heroines. In a contemporary Scotland where we hear far too much about the ephemeral political views of, for instance, expatriate actors, the commemoration of this selfless woman and her faithful self-sacrifice under Nazi tyranny is long overdue .

Not only her native Dumfriesshire district, but the Church of Scotland and, not least, the Scottish Government should be marking her life.

Gus Logan

York Road, North Berwick

Still Game?

In the Scotland’s Larder article focusing on game meat (7 October), I was disappointed to see a photograph of a crate full of what were described as "woodcock”. Disappointed, because the woodcock is now included in the RSPB Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern. On further investigation, it turns out the unfortunate birds were in fact “woodpigeon”.

The question remains, however, whether it is acceptable that the woodcock is considered fair game despite conservation concerns regarding population decline?

P Bell

Athelstaneford, East Lothian

A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.With the coronavirus crisis having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.u2swisshome.com/subscriptions now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Joy Yates

Editorial Director