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Derek Tucker - you are wrong about John Swinney

Updated: Jul 17, 2021

Derek Tucker states in today's Press and Journal that we all need to be more forgiving of those that make mistakes, and then proceeds to use the clamour for John Swinney's resignation (John Swinney is Education Minister in the Scottish Government) as an example of where we all ought to be more forgiving. According to Derek we should forgive Mr Swinney for the school exams fiasco.

I agree with Derek that we all need to remember that none of us is infallible and the saying "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" comes to mind.

However, in the case of John Swinney and the exams fiasco, I am afraid I do not believe forgiveness is in order, and the man really should resign or be sacked.

Why do I say this?

Quite simply, because it is unforgiveable that anyone should think that taking a child's predicted grade and reducing it because of their school's past pass grade performance, is an acceptable thing to do.

Anyone who had a handle on their brief of creating a robust system of pupil examination in this period of global pandemic would have realised months in advance that this way of marking would cause the brightest pupils in poorly performing schools to be unfairly marked down. It is obvious! And entirely forseeable.

Swinney's approval of this way of marking says one of two things about him.


1. John Swinney does not see school pupils as individuals but rather as part of a public mass for which the use of a crass and blunt instrument to manipulate predicted grades, is acceptable. If this is the case, it gives a very bad impression of the man, in that he sees pupils not as individuals with unique abilities, but simply as a public mass to be managed. If this is the case, John Swinney has been in his job too long, for it is clear that he has lost sight of the fact that human beings exist as individuals, each with unique talents and needs.


2. John Swinney did not do his job properly. He did not dig into the detail of how the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) planned to ensure results were comparable to previous years, and left the formulation of the process for doing so, up to others to decide. Presumably that was Fiona Robertson, Chief Executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Scotland's Chief Examining Officer. It was his job to know and to oversee how this process would work. And it was a requirement of his job that he was intelligent enough to forsee any potential problems that could arise.

In other words, this is not a question of forgiveness. This is a question of whether the man has the ability and competence to do the job of Education Minister. Thousands of pupils rely on that Minister being up to the job. John Swinney's career does not trump the needs of the thousands of pupils who relied on him. He must pay the price for his incompetence. He must go.

Post-note 15 Dec 2020: In today's Press and Journal, Derek Tucker appears to admit that he might have got it wrong in suggesting that John Swinney's apology was sufficient. Derek states "I feel I have to break with tradition and offer an apology". He goes on to say, "Events since then have forced a rethink on my part, accompanied by the realisation that too many so-called apologies are actually nothing of the sort." He refers to the recent breaches of Covid restrictions by Rita Orr (pop singer) and Kay Burley (of Sky News) as examples of where an apology just isn't sufficient. Unfortunately Derek doesn't specifically state that he was wrong in the case of John Swinney, but hey ho, let's not force the issue any further on a man who admits he hates to apologise. No one does, so let's leave it at that. Have a nice Christmas and New Year, Derek.

1-0 me. Back of the net!

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