BBC presenter claims ‘high up’ figures pressurising teachers over new curriculum timetable

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By Martin Kelly 

BBC Scotland reporter Seonag MacKinnon (pictured) has said that teachers may be being pressurised into withdrawing requests for a delay to the new Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

Speaking on Radio Scotland’s Newsdrive, Ms MacKinnon claimed that “energetic encouragement” was being given which appeared to have originated “quite high up the hierarchy in Scottish education”.

By Martin Kelly 

BBC Scotland reporter Seonag MacKinnon (pictured) has said that teachers may be being pressurised into withdrawing requests for a delay to the new Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

Speaking on Radio Scotland’s Newsdrive, Ms MacKinnon claimed that “energetic encouragement” was being given which appeared to have originated “quite high up the hierarchy in Scottish education”.

The dramatic claim came in an interview on Radio Scotland after the Education Correspondent said she had received private tweets and emails from concerned teachers who say they have been ‘persuaded’ to withdraw their requests for delay.

“I have to say I’m a bit concerned about the number of messages I’m getting privately on twitter and on emails from teachers who are suggesting that individual departments that want to delay are finding that they receive energetic encouragement to withdraw their request.” she said before adding:

“And that persuasion seems to come quite high up the hierarchy in Scottish education”

Ms MacKinnon was reporting on the news that four private schools had requested a delay in order to monitor the implementation of CfE.

Departments in State Schools have the right to request a delay of a year in implementing the new exams, however thus far only one local authority, East Renfrewshire, has sought a postponement.

In an article for BBC online the BBC Scotland reporter appeared to imply that Education Secretary Mike Russell was instructing education authorities not to delay, when she wrote:

“Following the decision by East Renfrewshire to delay, education secretary Michael Russell has made it clear to the 31 other education authorities who run state schools that he does not expect them to follow suit.”

However a statement from Mr Russell in the same article appeared to call into question Ms MacKinnon’s interpretation of the situation and that the expectation came instead from the local authorities.

He said: “I think the vast majority of schools are well prepared and working very hard on this.  Thirty one local authorities have made it clear they do not wish to delay.”

Ms MacKinnon has been critical of the SNP’s approach to education, in a recent Radio Scotland appearance Ms MacKinnon claimed that the SNP’s pledge on class sizes was “impossible” to achieve and labelled it a “Rolls Royce” policy.

Tweeting yesterday on the latest broadcast of Call Kaye the BBC reporter described a teacher who questioned Mr Russell as a “brave teacher”.

Ms MacKinnon is the former Scotsman Education Correspondent and married to Peter MacMahon, who was former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish’s press secretary.  Mr McMahon is also a former political editor of the Scotsman and the Mirror newspapers.

The suggestion that teachers may be experiencing pressure from “high up the hierarchy in Scottish education” is very serious.

However it is unlikely that private tweets and emails will be deemed strong enough evidence to justify these claims and, if no concrete proof materialises, critics are sure to question just why such serious accusations were allowed to be aired.