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It’s good that the education secretary recognises the lack of trust in the SQA

It’s good to hear that the new Education Secretary recognises the lack of trust the public have in the SQA after two years of exams controversy.

She says there needs to be a shake-up at the Scottish Qualifications Agency – and she intends to do the shaking.

Pupils and parents will breathe a sigh of relief.

For two successive years, pupils have been left floundering with the uncertainty of the exams process.

Last year, the SQA oversaw a scandal in which pupils’ results were downgraded based on the previous performance of their school – meaning children at poorer schools were hit hardest.

It took an intervention by the Scottish Government, after enraged pupils took to the streets in protest, for the decisions to be overturned and the original results reinstated.

This year, pupils have been put through hell trying to cope with a hotch-potch of continuous assessment and final school “exams” after the national exam timetable was scrapped.

It left some children having to complete an enormous amount of school tests in a few weeks after an enforced school shutdown lasting several months.

There can be few more important issues for a government to get right than our children’s qualifications.

Those from poorer backgrounds who do well can use a clutch of good exam results as a route out of poverty.

Those children who work hard can earn places at college or apprenticeships that give them a stable future.

Yet the SQA seem to mess it up year after year.

Somerville needs to make this reform a proper punishment exercise for our blundering exams bosses.

It has not taken long for Brexit to boomerang back on Scotland

It has not taken long for Brexit to boomerang back on Scotland.

Although most of New Year chaos at the channel ports was hidden under the crisis of a covid Christmas lockdown, the loss of £2 billion of exports to the EU is a disaster that cannot be ignored.

Particularly badly hit have been fish exports, whisky and farmed salmon – the backbone of Scotland’s food and drink industry.

This is not the wrinkle in the road which Tory ministers pretended it would be. The food and drink sector has said the figures show structural rather than teething problems with the UK’s departure from the EU.

This is permanent damage to Scotland’s food and drink sector which has been sacrificed to satisfy anti-European Toryism. It is no better for trade coming the other way from Europe, which also suffers from this wilful act of economic self harm.

They can blame customs checks, blame stockpiling or blame covid, but in the end blame lies with Boris Johnson and his lousy hard Brexit deal.



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