This article appears as part of the Lessons to Learn newsletter.

The political cowardice driving Glasgow’s education cuts

On Tuesday, we broke three exclusive education stories in one day. All of them were about cuts. At Moray School of Art, the only Fine Art degree course in the north of Scotland is in serious jeopardy, while staff on the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) programme in Glasgow were warned that their jobs were at risk.

The biggest story of them all, however, was the news that Glasgow City Council is cutting support for the ground-breaking and hugely successful MCR Pathways programme. This scheme has transformed the lives of vulnerable young people across the city, and readers were horrified to discover that the initiative is now under threat. This is happening because of the SNP-Green budget deal in Glasgow (and Holyrood), so obviously we approached both parties to ask them to comment on the cut. It would have been unfair not to.

Neither had the courage or the decency to respond.

The Greens in particular seem very keen to talk about their role in the council budget decisions, and about the impact of #GreensInGovernment… but only when it suits them.

It is also worth noting that the documents for the budget do not clearly state that programmes like MCR Pathways were to be cut – but it’s obvious that some people did know how the huge savings being proposed were actually to be achieved.

Glasgow’s politicians started swinging the axe without being clear with people about where it was going to land – and then refused to talk about it.

Read more:

Exclusive: Glasgow City Council to cut support for MCR Pathways school mentoring scheme

There are two possible explanations. Either they knew what they were voting for and wouldn’t defend it, which makes them cowards, or they had no idea what they were voting for and did it anyway, which makes them incompetent.

I actually don’t mind which is correct, but it’s probably best if they pick one or the other and stick to it. Incompetent cowards are even more dangerous.

Parents overwhelmingly support LGBT-inclusive education

On Tuesday we were focused on bad news stories – but today is very different!

A new survey has confirmed that parents in Scotland are overwhelmingly in favour of LGBT-inclusive education in schools, so on the last day of LGBT History Month we’ve run several stories celebrating the progress that Scotland has made.

Readers can find out about the survey results in our news coverage, view all ten questions and the responses they generated in our visualisation, read about the impact of Section 28 on teachers, learn about the experiences of current trans students, and read a few thoughts of mine on how LGBT inclusive education has changed schools, and Scotland, for the better.

What the latest data shows is that despite the howls and shrieks from a very vocal minority, and the moral panic that has been whipped up over the last couple of years, Scotland is moving forward.

But the work is not done, and progress can be reversed, so this isn’t the time for complacency.

The Herald:

In Case You Missed It…

Last weekend, I took another dive into Scottish education data by analysing the National 4 to National 5 progression rates. Basically, I wanted to know whether pupils are likely to succeed at N5 level the year after completing the N4.

A quick caveat: not everyone completing an N4 is expected to then be able to complete the more difficult N5, and there are other routes available to young people. But for those who do wish to go down that route, you’d like to think that the courses had been designed to enable their progression and development. It is not at all clear that this is the case across all subjects, and some of the variations between different disciplines are remarkable.

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In maths, applications of maths, physics, biology, chemistry, history, geography, modern studies and computing science, fewer than 50% of progressing pupils pass the National 5. To make matters worse, the success rates have declined – sometimes very significantly – since 2017.

I was a bit surprised to see the story take off the way that it did, but I think I get it – the reaction was the type you see when everyone knows there’s a problem, nobody is supposed to talk about it, and then it finally gets dragged out into the open.

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Lessons to Learn'Staff working conditions are student learning conditions'

Off the top of my head I can think of a number of issues that would fall into that category, and I’ve already started having a look at some of them – but maybe you have an idea for something I should have a look at? Let us know.

And one more thing...

I am going on holiday. You, of course, don’t care about that, but this is my newsletter and I care about it very much. The last 9 months or so have been great, but it’s time for a wee break, so I’ll be extremely Out Of Office for the next fortnight.

My colleague Garrett Stell will be taking over in my absence, and our team will still be working to bring you the best education coverage in Scotland.

But I’ll be oblivious, because I’ll be on a beach!