Fiona Duff: Now it’s education by lottery

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So here’s the thing. I keep reading about the terrible state of Scottish education. How can it be, I would wonder – it was in living memory that our system of filling our children with information was held up as a template for the world.

But I have just spent a few days with my husband’s family including his 13-year-old niece. She is at a school in Fife and before the end of term had to choose her subjects for the National 5 exams which she will sit in 2020.

Now I know that most teachers hate this new exams system. What the Scottish government call their Curriculum For Excellence, I believe most teachers refer to as Curriculum For Excrement.

Anyway, back to the niece who was telling us that her school cannot afford enough teachers to cover some of the more popular subjects. The way of coping with this was to call all pupils whose subject choices were a bit of a problem to a massive school assembly.

For over-subscribed courses, like biology, all names were put into a hat and then those pulled out were allowed onto the course. The remaining were called up on stage and given about a minute in which to decide on another subject.

Of course, there are those for whom this might not be a problem. However, she had a male friend whose heart was set on a very particular career path for which he would need to take specific exams. For the past two years of secondary school he has attended well and studied diligently. But his name was not drawn and his hopes for the future lie shattered. To add insult to injury my niece told me that a couple of ‘real skivers’ who couldn’t give a toss about what lies ahead for their future, had their names pulled out of the hat.

So while the government flings money at daft and unpopular schemes like the Named Persons’ nonsense, they are taking away the dreams and hopes of those who might make this country a better place in which to live.