University of Stirling is taking steps to support international students from red list countries arriving for the new term to keep them and other students safe. The UK Government must provide financial assistance for all universities to replicate the good practice at Stirling.
Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion Fellows, wrote to Education Secretary John Swinney last week to raise concerns about how pupils – especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds – were being graded.
Following Mr Swinney’s announcement today, Mrs Fellows commented:
“I am glad the Education Secretary has listened to and acted on the concerns raised by teachers, parents, pupils and me on the way in which pupils were graded by the SQA this year. Pupils will now have their work and ability accurately reflected in their grades.
“Pupils should not have been graded based on their school’s previous performance. This was impacting disproportionately on those from disadvantaged backgrounds – many of whom live in my constituency and who had contacted me to raise their issues.
“The re-grading will provide our young people with a reason for hope and a fair chance as they progress into adulthood. Well done to all our young people who have studied hard.”
MOST DEPRIVED PUPILS HAVE GRADES DISPROPORTIONATELY LOWERED COMPARED TO THOSE FROM WELL OFF BACKGROUNDS
Following the publication of the Scottish Qualification Authority’s (SQA) results this week, Marion Fellows, MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, has called on the Scottish Government to ensure local pupils are graded fairly after those from more deprived backgrounds received disproportionately lower grades.
Due to the exam diet being cancelled by Covid, teachers were asked to recommend a grade for each pupil in each class. The SQA then amended grades based on schools’ previous performances rather than each pupil’s actual performance.
Figures show that pupils from the most deprived communities according to the Social Index for Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) had their recommended grades disproportionately reduced compared to pupils from the most well-off communities.
Those in the most deprived fifth had their recommended Higher pass rate reduced by 15.2% compared to just 6.9% for those in the most well off fifth.
This year, Craigneuk was deemed to be the most deprived area in Scotland for education by the SIMD.
Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:
“I have written to Education Secretary John Swinney to ensure local pupils who have been denied a fair assessment of their ability due to the SQA’s flawed grading method have access to a robust and rigorous appeals process.
“As a former college lecturer, I know the importance of education in improving peoples’ life chances. These results will not just impact these students in the present. It could impact their future. As the economy takes the full impact of Covid, we must provide our young people with a reason for hope and a fair chance as they progress into adulthood.
“Motherwell, Wishaw and Bellshill have many hardworking and capable young people – and those who have received the grades they wanted deserve congratulations. But all pupils deserve their efforts to be reflected in their grades. Not have it decided by their school’s previous performance.
“School performance is linked to peoples’ social and economic background. This isn’t a fair way to assess a person’s ability and it will only entrench the attainment gap we have in Scotland.”
Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion Fellows, has this week called for the Scottish Government to include the teaching of Scotland’s colonial past, and historical and present race relations in the Scottish curriculum to help tackle racism.
Mrs Fellows, a former college lecturer, made calls in line with letters from constituents to support the Black Lives Matter movement and for Scotland’s curriculum to be updated.
She wants young people to be educated on Scotland’s exploitation and enslavement of Black and Minority Ethnic people and countries through the British Empire, and also teach people of how historical events have fostered racism today.
Mrs Fellows says that Scottish Ministers must listen to and work with Black and Minority Ethnic people here in Scotland, the groups which are representing them, and the Educational Institute for Scotland to incorporate these issues in the Scottish curriculum.
The USA, Scotland and the rest of the UK have seen protests sparked following the killing of George Floyd, an African American man, by Minneapolis Police.
Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:
“My solidarity goes to everyone across the world protesting against racism. As a former educator, I know full well the importance of education in forming the worldview and attitudes of young people. Scotland’s youth must be educated on how we benefited – and continue to benefit – from the exploitative British Empire and how racism still exists today.
“Young people must learn about their country’s worst moments as well as their best. They must be under no illusions of Scotland’s role in the enslavement, exploitation and persecution of people of colour.
“As well as increasing awareness of our history, we must also teach our young people about the racism many people of colour still face today. This is essential to raise conscientious and inclusive adults and build a better Scotland. We must learn the mistakes of our past – and present – to ensure we do not repeat them in the future.”
Teachers will submit an estimated grade based on a pupil’s performance in each subject across the year which will be checked and validated by the SQA.
Awards will be given by the 4th of August.
After the 4th of August, a free appeals service will be available to schools and colleges, to allow them to request a review of a grade.
As the SNP’s spokesperson for Disabilities, I’m backing Axe the Reading Tax in their campaign and call on the UK Government to end this unfair 20% tax on eBooks and audiobooks that disproportionately impacts disabled people.
Some disabled people need eBooks and audiobooks in order to access and enjoy the things that most of us take for granted. They should not be punished for doing so. We must end the tax.
Best of luck to those receiving their exam results today. To those that didn’t receive what they were hoping for, there are many options and paths to the career you want to have. Remember, there is no wrong path.
From 8am to 8pm today, the Skills Development Scotland Exam Helpline will be open to offer advice on next steps, clearing, resits, apprenticeships, college and university as well as getting a job.
Monday 29th January
It was back to work for Marion on Monday, as she continues to work hard for the people of the Motherwell & Wishaw constituency.
Tuesday 30th January
A leaked report from the UK Gov shows that under every possible Brexit scenario, the UK would be worse off meaning a cost to our economy, jobs, and living standards. The cavalier attitude of the hard right Brexiteers in the UK Gov must be challenged.https://t.co/ModNfJCe4B
— Marion Fellows (@marionfellows) January 30, 2018
Wednesday 31st January
As well as joining the Minister for Higher Education, Further Education and Science on a visit to New College Lanarkshire, Marion was busy working from her constituency office in Motherwell, as well as undertaking meetings with local businesses.
Thursday 1st February
— Marion Fellows (@marionfellows) February 1, 2018
Thursday saw Marion hosting a fantastic and vital WASPI event in Motherwell, furthering the cause for pension justice.
The MP also continued to further the campaign for a more efficient, fairer Child Maintenance System, questioning the Department for Work and Pensions on non-resident parents being allowed £2,500 of unearned income that is not factored into payment plans.
Friday 2nd February
Saturday 3rd February
On Saturday, Marion held her month Wishaw Library surgery, allowing constituents to come along without an appointment for advice and assistance with a range of issues.
I was delighted to accompany Shirley-Anne Sommerville, Minister for Higher Education, Further Education and Science, to New College Lanarkshire this morning.
We discussed the STEM Strategy and NCLs role in school/college partnerships, links with businesses and Foundation Apprenticeships.
I also met Besty Crosbie who is a shining example of young women excelling in Engineering.
Betsy has competed within the UK, as the only female competitor at Euroskills and one of two at the World Skills in Abu Dhabi.
LABOUR CUT TRANSPORT AND FORCE PUPILS TO WALK DANGEROUS ROUTE TO SCHOOL
Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion Fellows, this week wrote to North Lanarkshire Council leader, Jim Logue, over plans to cut transport for St Thomas’ pupils in the Wishawhill area forcing them to walk a dangerous route to school.
Parents were informed last week that as of June 2018, school transport would be cut after a new route was deemed safe by NLC.
Commenting, Marion said:
“I am appalled that after seven years North Lanarkshire Council is withdrawing privilege transport access from children in Wishawhill.
“Parents are right to be concerned. Pupils from St Thomas’ Primary will have to cross Netherton Street – one of the busiest streets in Wishaw. Its proximity to Wishaw General makes it even more dangerous.
“Emergency ambulances use that route all the time. Even if a Crossing Patrol is in place this should not be described as a safe walking route.
“North Lanarkshire Council’s cynical move to save money whilst putting children at risk must not be allowed.
“While NLC has rules on who is entitled to school transport, this case is exceptional and pupil safety must always be put first.
“NLC must think again and I have written to council leader Jim Logue to ask that he does so.”
Councillor Alan Valentine added:
“I am hugely concerned to learn from parents that this privileged transport is being removed.
“I was at the meeting in 2010 where this transport was agreed following the closure of St Matthew’s Primary School.
“At that point there was no safe walking routes identified. Now seven years on suddenly there are three routes deemed safe.
“Myself and my SNP colleagues will fight against these decisions taken without consultation with the local communities involved.
“The safety of our children has to be our priority before underhand budget cuts.”