Report card for Johann Lamont: Unfortunately I would have to give this student a Grade of F ,As she had has totally failed to grasp the subject matter in hand, in any subject. Her presentational skills leave much to be desired, and unfortunately she has fallen in with a bad crowd who are leading her even further astray.
Seemingly she is the leader of some local gang, and her bad attitude and language reflects this. I always like to try and look for the positives to endeavour to develop in any student, but unfortunately I struggle to find any positives with Johann at all. Her whole attitude is Negative,Negative, Negative.
Over all , She must do better, unfortunately I think this is her best and I can’t see any hope for improvement.
Today saw Johann Lamont giving her speech to the Labour party in Scotland, an end of Year 1 report I suppose.
I will come to the content of her speech shortly, but as a wee aside, I should to tell you that although I went to the same secondary school as her in Glasgow, at the same time. I honestly cannot remember her at all. We are all having a wee reunion in about 10 days time. I don’t believe that Johann knows about it,and as far as I am aware nobody has informed or invited her.
However, given that my memory may be letting me down a bit, I thought I would ask around and see if anyone else remembered her. There are around 150 of us in a group,and I felt sure that if even if the boys didn’t remember her, that at least some of the girls would. Sure enough, none of the lads did remember her, and it was looking very much like none of the lassies were going to either. Until..at last success! One lassie did, she told us that Johann used to sit beside her in class and copy her work. Other than that, Johann had stayed on until the end of 5th year,and then gone on to University, so I guess Johann must have actually managed to do some work of her own then. Another of the lads simply commented on seeing her picture, Is that her? She hasn’t worn well has she?
Now to be fair, not everyone stands out at school, some develop later. I know that was the case with me, I hated school with a vengeance and ,dogged it permanently from 3rd year before finally leaving with 2 O’levels…Yet despite my lack of attendance, there seem to be quite a few who remember me very well,and have even told me stuff I couldn’t remember doing, until they reminded me.
However this beginning may give us some insight into why Johann is such an uninspiring and often near invisible leader of the Scottish branch of the Labour party. I see she still cribs her notes at First Ministers question time in Holyrood from some speech writer,and is at a total loss when she has to respond off script.
Anyway, onto her speech today. I wont repeat it all, Its pretty turgid stuff, and all about her education and what she considers is the right way forward for education in Scotland.
“Today marks my first year as Scottish Labour Leader. When I took over the 12 months ago, we were in a hard place. We had lost badly in the Scottish Parliament elections and we were unprepared for the prospect of a referendum that would decide the future direction of our country.
I believe we have made considerable progress in reforming the party, in holding the government to account in the choices they are making, in winning the argument on the constitution and proving that Labour can once again meet the aspirations of people across Scotland.
But I was under no illusion of the scale of the task when I took on the job as leader last year and I am under no illusion now. We still have a very long way if we are going to prove to people that we both have an ambitious vision for a better Scotland, and that we can deliver it.”
I have got news for you Johann, you are still in a hard place, and you seem totally unable to engage with the referendum at all, in any meaningful positive fashion, and seem utterly devoid of positive vision or indeed any vision for a future Scotland. I have no idea what progress you think you have made in your own party, you certainly have not taken the Government to account, unless you consider shouting.. Liar Liar pants on fire, doing this? As for winning the argument on the constitution and proving that Labour can onece again meet the aspirations of the people of Scotland? Have you been smoking banned substances?
“I want to start by talking about my own experience of education, of how it shaped my values and how it informs the way I want to see Scottish education.
I grew up just a stone’s throw away from this magnificent building and I spent many an hour studying here.”
So did I
My parents instilled in me the importance of learning. They were taught on the small island of Tiree. My father left school early but he left numerate and he was literate in what was not even his first language. My mother, marked out as a bright pupil, had to head off to Oban for her secondary education and while doing well, she did not make it to university, in large part because of the adverse impact of being separated from her family at such a young age.
Nothing unusual here, these values on learning were not Labour values, they were Island values. I come from Benbecula, even further North and West, unlike Johann, my first language was Gaelic, and I had to attend after hours English classes in primary school to learn the language. My parents also left school early,but were literate and numerate in English. Both my elder brother and sister had to leave home for Fort William for their Secondary education, and my brother did make it to university, He is an eminent psychiatrist. My sister was successful in management. So leaving home early and being separated from family didn’t stop them! So don’t make excuses Johann
My husband Archie left school at 15 and through his trade union activity was drawn to education again. The Labour and trade union movement historically revered education; it is fitting that reportedly the first subscription library was that started by the Leadhills miners in 1741. Archie in his thirties took the brave step of enrolling at Glasgow Caledonian University, studying in the evening, working fulltime and paying for the course himself.
Yup…So? I left school effectively at 14…was dogging it from the end of second year! I got two o’levels, one in Gaelic..which was a gimme… It was my language after all.
In my late 20’s I enrolled in the OU, while working full time, and looking after a young family, studying in the evenings and early mornings to get my BA degree.
I am immensely proud of my mother who in her early forties travelled across the city to Langside College to re-sit her Highers; many times we came to the Mitchell, she to study and my brother and I to do our homework. And I am full of admiration for Archie and the many like him who struggle with work, family and other pressures and still pass their exams!
Gee Thanks Johann
I went to Woodside Secondary School, again not far from here, a real school of ambition for working class children but of course already shorn of primary school pals who at eleven had been deemed inappropriate for an academic education.
Ahh the dreaded 11plus exam. And you are entirely incorrect Johann, it was streamlining according to ability, there was still avenues available to transfer from Junior to Senior Secondary if a pupil started showing a certain level of academic attainment. But mostly it allowed those with clear academic potential to work in an environment where they would not be disrupted by those who were not of that nature. whilst it allowed the non academic pupils to learn useful skills which could lead to trades in the Junior Secondary. Labours failed Comprehensive schooling system totally destroyed that,and created all sorts of problems. I never missed a day of school under the old system, but in moving to the new comprehensive school, barely ever attended it. It was awful!
I was encouraged from early on to achieve and to think of university and a career. But not everyone who went to my school would have the same opportunities as me. It was clear to me then, as it is now, that there is great inequality across Scotland, not least in our cities, and there are many things that inhibit us from achieving our potential.
Don’t give us that claptrap Johann..We all had the same opportunities, none of us at our school was rich,and we all had similar home environments in the West End and City of Glasgow. Some have made the most of their opportunities, some have not, but we all had the same ones. There was no inequality between us in school Johann, so to say that there was is utter garbage. You went straight to University, and make such a lot of it. I did not. I went and sailed the world instead, did many other things, and then came back and studied. I bet that if you line up your academic qualifications against mine now, I will leave you floundering. Others who were not at all academic, have gone on to achieve great things in business and other areas. We make the best of what we have, or we do not. It’s up to us.
At university I revelled in the opportunity to study and discovered the joys of Labour politics, the Labour values of aspiration and fairness which chimed with my upbringing.
The Joys of Labour politics? Labour values of aspiration and fairness? Are you having a joke? Even when I was once briefly a member of Labour, I cannot recall any joys! As for aspiration and fairness? The only aspiration I see coming from Labour politicians these days is to line their own pockets, and to wear ermine in the House of Lords. And Where pray tell me is the fairness of what Glasgow labour have been doing to the disadvantaged in their community, shutting down their community centres?
I went on to teaching, first in Rothesay, and then for many years in Springburn and then Castlemilk. I spent far longer in teaching than I have in politics.
I would suggest going back to teaching, you aren’t much good at politics.
And when I think of education it is as a living, breathing thing. I see the faces of children I taught, the people I meet in this job who embody the scale of the challenge to which we must rise. The bullied child, the child too afraid for her mother at the hands of her father ever to be able to concentrate on her homework, the young carer juggling his home responsibilities with learning, the child in care struggling to cope, the family shattered by bereavement, the son cashing in his qualifications early to get a job, the mums building their confidence to learn supported by college outreach, the young mother bringing up her child on her own and attending university being advised by the job centre that she would be better to stay on benefits at this time in her life.
You may have seen Johann..but what did you do?
I spent years at the coal face of peoples lives, all of the above and much more! But I spent hours, weeks, months and years with them..In their homes, alongside them at point of need, and helped htem through it. You saw their children in a classroom, and maybe the parents at parents evenings…But what have you done? What are you going to do? Seeing is not enough, telling stories is not enough, you actually need to do things to make a difference.
I saw first-hand how our education system enabled some children to achieve their potential and go on to a better life, I saw many others let down and felt frustration that for a whole range of reasons some children fell short of what they were capable. As a teacher I sought to do my best for the children in front of me; the aspiration for me coming into politics was to play a part in changing the lives of children across Scotland.
The education system has never worked for all. I know that. It certainly didn’t suit me. There are many things that can be improved, and in many ways it is better than when we were at school, but its still a long way to go.
In Scotland we have strong foundations on which to build.
Education is highly valued in Scottish society.
The influence of Scottish Enlightenment thinking – a tradition that produced thinkers like David Hume and Adam Smith, and set the context for later Scottish technological achievements such as the telephone and television – means that the value of education has been widely recognised.
A further strength of Scottish education is its egalitarianism.
Scottish education is based on a powerful unifying ideal: that everyone should have the opportunity of a good education, regardless of background.
Scotland was the first nation to aspire to universal elementary education. In 1696 – just prior to the Act of Union – the Scottish Parliament passed the School Act establishing a school in every parish. It made Scotland one of the first societies in which literacy was widespread.
Similarly, university was never a privileged preserve as in England: for example, at the end the nineteenth century, nearly 20 per cent of students at Glasgow University came from manual, working-class backgrounds, something inconceivable south of the border at that time.
The “lad o’ pairts” – the clever young Scot able to rise from humble origins thanks to Scotland’s open educational system – was not a myth but perhaps it is worth reflecting that lasses o’ pairts were less in evidence.
The high value placed on education is why Scots have had such a disproportionate influence on the shaping of the modern world.
Scotland must face up to the fact that, in recent decades, we have fallen behind. We are no longer top of the table. A smug regard for past glories is damaging and dangerous.
Not a lot I would disagree with there, except for the assertion that we have fallen behind, we haven’t, but the rest of the world has been catching up.
School leaders must be empowered to take measures that deal with disruptive behaviour and truancy. We all know how it only takes one disruptive pupil to spoil the learning of an entire classroom.
We understand the importance of a safe, calm environment in which to learn and we must look too at how children can be supported to behave and learn. Cuts in local government funding and pressure on schools, of course, have seen the supports which can make all the difference to a child, being stripped out of the system.
We need to re-empower the teaching profession. Whenever possible, decisions should be taken at the school level. We need to be less “top-down” and prescriptive.
Teachers become teachers to help children learn and develop. We are on their side. We know that the 4000 reduction in teaching staff, coupled with cuts in support staff, results in huge pressure on all those seeking to do the best for our young people.
In spite of relatively low differences in learning outcomes between Scottish schools, an achievement gap between rich and poor continues to persist in Scotland. The educational divide between rich and poor is a scar on the country – it is simply unacceptable.
The school system, in truth, is failing those who need it most.
Schools with a higher proportion of pupils registered for free school meals have: lower exam results; a higher percentage leaving school and not entering education, training or work; and higher truancy levels.
Last month, for the first time, the Scottish government released detailed
statistics on how many fifth year students from the poorest 20% of Scottish
areas got three or more A grades at Highers.
Shockingly, in 2011, the number who achieved three or more As for the whole of Scotland was 220. That is just 2.5% of nearly 9,000 fifth year students who live in the poorest areas.
In the city we are in today, Glasgow, which has nearly 2,400 pupil in fifth year from the poorest 20% of households, only 58 got top grades.
Exactly Johann, I highlighted the same thing myself in an article “Poor Poor Britain” where I discussed the Rowntree Foundations Report 2011, which tells us that year on year, from 1979 to 2010 through successive Tory and Labour Governments, Thatcher,Major, Blair and Brown, the percentage of those in Britain who are officially below the breadline increased to the extent that by 2010, almost a quarter of the population were in poverty. At the same time the Richest got much richer. This does not take into account the effects of this coalition government which is making things much worse again.
So it is not the education system which is causing these figures Johann..Its the policies which your labour Governments and the Tory Governments have been pursuing which has caused these inequalities to worsen. And the policies you are continuing to advocate.
She then rabbited on about colleges for quite a bit, before coming to this;
We have an unacceptably high level of youth unemployment in Scotland. Yet the Scottish government has chosen to slash the funding for colleges.
Why have a we an unacceptably high level of not just youth employment, but employment as a whole in Scotland? Because of the state of the British Economy!
And it is not just colleges which are feeling the pinch of reduced block funding from the British Government to Scotland..It is every sector.
How many young Scots are not in education, training or employment? How many of these young people will fail to achieve their potential? Colleges provide opportunities to young people who have struggled at school either academically or because of disrupted lifestyles, yet they are budget losers. That is not a progressive policy choice. And as the Budget in the Scottish Parliament approaches, we in Labour will confront the Scottish Government with the reality – ‘free education’ funded at the expense of the college sector with all the impact that will have.
Ahhh here we are getting to it..the attack on free University education..
In higher education, we need to address hard, long-term questions – not only to put universities on a long-term sustainable footing, but also to ensure Scottish institutions thrive and become the best in the world, in terms of research output, teaching quality and student experience. The big questions we must address are:
How can universities best serve a diverse and growing student population?
What role can higher education play in encouraging sustainable economic growth across Scotland?
If investment in world-class research and teaching is to keep pace with other leading nations, what is the best way to pay for it?
What should be the relationship between higher education and further education?
We need a long-term solution to higher education funding in Scotland. If we do not find one, Scottish universities will begin to lose ground against their international competitors.
And your solution is, Johann? As if I didn’t know!
We also need to look at whether the current higher education funding arrangements are fair. While it is undoubtedly true that higher education is a public good, it also results in private gain to those who undertake it. Graduates not only receive higher lifetime returns, but a disproportionate number also come from more privileged backgrounds. These two points, taken together, mean that a no-charge system is essentially regressive.
I am not wishing to get down to your usual standard of debate Johann..but..Liar Liar Pants on Fire!!
The vast majority of those students I last studied alongside at Glasgow University not so terribly long ago..came from similar backgrounds to our own..There were not all that many who came from privileged backgrounds.I suppose In the Likes of St Andrews, where there has been a high number of affluent English students, including Katie Middleton and her man, you might have had a point..but that is an exception rather than a rule. And it is utter nonsense to suggest that a university degree means you will be affluent. I certainly have never been, and you wouldn’t be if you had remained a teacher..It took politics to really up your income!
There is no such thing as free higher education: under a completely tax funded tuition system, everybody is forced to pay for it, including those on low incomes.
Labour believes in extending the chance of a good university to all who are capable of undertaking study. However, university education is costly, and faces competing claims on limited public resources.
The more tax you pay, the more you put into the pot! Higher Education has never been Free, but by making it Free at the point of use, we allow the poorest to be able to attain betterment in life.
Whilst it was possible to sustain a system of publicly-funded higher education in an environment of relatively low participation, this is not viable in an era of mass participation without a very serious diminution in standards and quality.
So limit it those who can afford..How very Tory of you!
Our universities will not only be competing against institutions within these isles. Our universities need to compete against the best in the world. This autumn, it was reported that Scotland’s top universities, including St Andrews, Aberdeen and Glasgow, had fallen down an international league table. The international reputation for Scottish higher education is at risk.
St Andrews dropped from 85th to 108th on the list, Glasgow fell from 102nd to 139th and Aberdeen now stands at 176th – down 25 places from last year.
Scottish universities are not only in competition with Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College, London.
They are in operating in a competitive global context. They are also in competition with Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Peking University.
Apart from you being disingenuous about league tables, you know fine that it is Faculties within universities and research which really gets recognition, and guess what? Scotlands Universities are still World Leaders in many areas..But you wouldn’t want to say that, would you?
Let me reprise some of what you have already said “Scottish education is based on a powerful unifying ideal: that everyone should have the opportunity of a good education, regardless of background”
“We have to get away from the idea that a good school is one that simply gets good examination marks.
That’s one measurement of success, but not the only one. It is also not the Scottish way.”
Where does that shape up with what you are saying about further education, somewhat at odds is it not?
At the same time, there is an important issue of widening access. The present Scottish government’s policy of free tuition fees has not increased the number of low income students going to university. There is also a shocking lack of articulation agreements with colleges and our dropout rates for students from disadvantaged backgrounds are the poorest in the UK.
As I have already said, its been yours and the Tories economic policies which have been creating more poor children!The more poor you create, the less will make it!
Education is part of our identity. It is a proud part of our history. It is vital to our future. But I am not sure that, beyond our conceit of ourselves, Scottish education being the best in the world is the modern lived reality for most Scots.
We, the country that boasted four ancient universities when our neighbours had just two, cannot claim that global lead today.
As I have said..Oh Yes we can! Maybe not to the same extent, but we are still world leaders in many areas.
This from Wikipedia,and by no means comprehensive..”Scottish universities generally being recognised as amongst the best in the teaching of medicine, law, engineering, science and technology. Increasingly Scotland is being seen as an exporter of education, with the number of overseas students applying to studying at universities throughout Scotland, rising substantially in recent years. Most universities are linked with a flourishing research and development sector; the University of Dundee is at the heart of a biotechnology and medical research cluster; the University of Edinburgh is a centre of excellence in the field of Artificial Intelligence and the University of Aberdeen is a world-leader in the study of offshore technology in the oil and gas industry”
Scotland, the country which in the 17th century demanded a school in every parish and then unleashed arguably the most educated population in the world on the world through the 1707 union, cannot claim to be leading the world now.
Yup We Can!
We are not living up to our history. We are not living up to our tradition. And we have the irony of a nationalist government which is pursuing education policies which are profoundly anti-Scottish
Now we have a government which has slogans rather than policy.
Education is supposedly free. The rocks will apparently melt before it is otherwise. But the truth is different.
So according to Johann it is profoundly anti Scottish to not force exorbitant fees on students?
It is hard enough to survive these university years as it is, many having to work part time jobs for long hours and study at the same time to try and get by and survive.
I want to return to a system where everyone can make the best of themselves. But I want it to be a better system than we have today.
The nationalists insist we are doing better than England. England is after all their obsession.
My view is broader view. England is our neighbour, one of our partners in the UK, but not our yardstick.
The Nationalists as you put it Johann do not make England their yardstick, but what the policies of The British Government are forcing is more evident to see in England and Wales..and they can point out that Scots do not want it! Since University fees hiked south of the border, student numbers have dropped sown there, with many of the poorest deciding not to try to go to university because they couldn’t afford to. This is what you want?
Scots and Scotland compete internationally. For our proud nation to attract the investment we need to prosper to a small country on the edge of northern Europe we need to have the best educated population in the world.
Our yardstick then is not what is happening in Essex, but what is happening in China, in the USA, what is happening in India and South Korea.}
And as I have pointed out earlier, we are doing it….but with our own resources we can do even better!
And there are so many questions?
Is £75 million a year to European students a price worth paying to keep a no-tuition fee policy for
Scottish students while our colleges are under attack? And service to the vulnerable?
So you are saying Remove ourselves from Europe? Bin the no tuition fee policy! The only reason there are cutbacks in resources is because of the British Governments unequal austerity measures, because of a mess they are compounding, from a mess they inherited of the Labour government.If Scotland had access to our own resources none of this would be happening here at all!
Are reductions in classroom support, including teachers, a price worth paying for a freeze in the council tax?
Tell that one to your Labour Councils! They decide where to cut back locally. A freeze in the Council tax actually doesn’t really impact all that much on them..but it makes a hell of a difference to us trying to live from day to day!
Our aim? That in 20 years’ time Scottish politicians aren’t going round the world to see how it is done there, but so that the rest of the world comes here to see how we do it.
We must ensure that the best graduates see teaching as a profession on par with the best in business and commerce, and whose rewards are greater if not always financially.
And we must work harder. We are competing not with Kent but with Korea.
Ok folks..no going to university for your kids..far too expensive….get to the work house with the lot of you!
So many Scots took their education to Australia and Canada. Now Australian and Canadian schools achieve more than ours.
We must change that.
I guess that is why we now have Scottish university campuses in the middle east?
The best days of Scottish education cannot be behind us. The best days must be in the years to come.
Education – not a bucket to be filled but a fire to be lit.
A world leading education system. A Scotland true to its real traditions. A Scotland fit for the future. A Scotland true to itself once again.
I agree with the last bit…A Scotland free of the shackles really striding into the world! Sounds good to me! Unfortunately it is not going to happen following a labour right wing agenda attached to a stuffed up Union.
Rather ironic isn’t it… Johann and I…grew up within streets of each other, went to the same school,at the same time, had the same teachers, both of us from Island backgrounds, Both attended Glasgow University but by different routes. Yet we couldn’t possibly be much further apart.
But this comment in Johann’s speech stood out..”So I want to set out a vision of Scottish education which will take more than one term to deliver. One that I will start but may not be able to finish.”
I wonder what she meant by that?!
Johann Lamont: Kent Road primary school Glasgow 1968
I wonder whatever became of her? Can you spot her I wonder?