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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


Skule Newz

by our Scottish political affairs correspondent

Once upon a time Nicola Sturgeon said that schools were her top priority, she will be hoping that no opposition politician reminds her of that. Scottish schools have been closed for three months now. Plans are being laid for a partial reopening, but it is becoming increasing clear that both the handling of the closure and the escape routes are undeserving of a gold star.

Not only have this year’s exams been cancelled, it looks as though next year’s will be as well. Part-time schooling for the whole of next year is on the cards.

Ms Sturgeon has said that after the summer holidays pupils should spend half their time in school. This seems to have come as a surprise to Education Secretary John Swinney, who had rather more modest objectives but soon fell in line.

patchwork

Across the country hard-pressed local authorities have a patchwork of solutions, most of which come nowhere near Sturgeon’s back of a fag-packet target. Councils say this is impossible if the two-metre social distancing is to remain in place. The main education union, the Educational Institute of Scotland, is demanding that the two-metre rule be set in stone unless there has been a “significant improvement in the rate of infection”.

In Edinburgh, one-third of pupils will be in school buildings at any one time from August, whilst in other areas councils have said one day per week will be all they can manage. Glasgow is planning for two days a week in school for primaries and has warned of forthcoming subject cuts. Dumfries and Galloway is planning for two days in school and three days of schooling at home.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the trade union for councils, said local authorities had a £145 million bill to deal with other COVID-related changes and have recently complained that funds from the UK Treasury have not been released to councils by the Scottish government.

Nearly a month ago the Scottish government said it was setting up a £9 million fund to supply laptops to 25,000 deserving pupils – but none have been delivered. It appears that online and home learning is not going as well as hoped. It has been reported that children are spending an average only of 2.5 hours daily on schooling, which means that a lot of lost time must be made up. That is not a good omen for the panned “blended learning” when parents get back to work. The Children’s Commissioner, Bruce Adamson, has warned that school closures risked psychological damage to pupils and that home learning did not work.

rushing

The Scottish bourgeoisie have demonstrated so much faith in the SNP’s handling of schools that they are rushing to get out of the state system and put little Fiona and Torquil down for the 70 or so Scottish Etons and Harrows that are planning to reopen fulltime next term. Kilgraston School in Perth says enquiries have trebled. According to headmistress Dorothy MacGinty: “Exam worry has been the major concern aired to us.”

At last the coronavirus crisis has given the SNP someone other than Boris Johnson to blame for declining standards in Scottish schools. It was recently discovered that almost a third (604) of primary schools have not been inspected in a decade and late last year the results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) showed another slide in the rankings, finishing 31st in the world for maths, behind Latvia and Slovenia. Obviously nothing to do with the SNP