Michael Marra is a Dundee city councillor and a former senior adviser to the Scottish Labour leader. He is standing for election to the Scottish Parliament as a regional list MSP for North East Scotland.
Here we are again.
Back in lockdown, home-schooling the kids around the kitchen table.
I’m hoping (but not expecting) that I am better at it than last time and that my two pupils (aged seven and nine) are a little more tolerant of their old Dad.
Apart from having me teaching, I do know that our children are lucky. We have broadband and we have a laptop in the house. Many, many children will be relying on Mum or Dad’s phone and data top-ups.
Many, many children will be relying on Mum or Dad’s phone and data top-ups.”
So what happens when a parent needs the phone, and how much data credit do the videos pupils have to watch for class cost?
And how on earth are we still talking about this almost a year on from the last time?
More lockdowns have seemed inevitable for a long while. Even in the heady days of the summer (when we were meeting two groups of eight people five metres apart, or something) the winter without a vaccine and all the annual NHS pressures loomed with gloomy certainty.
The Scottish Government was surely using that time to prepare, to provide tablets to all children, to strike deals on data vouchers and to put in place the Scottish online curriculum.
Laptops not delivered
Given the track record of failure that puts Scotland at the wrong end of almost every Covid-related statistical league table in existence, you won’t really be surprised to find that very little of that happened.
In Dundee I have asked education officers time and again about preparedness. Back in late October I was given assurances that a second bulk order of 1,250 laptops were on their way. As of this week it turns out that only 150 of these have, so far, arrived.
So, 1,100 children find themselves without means of accessing the work they have to do, almost a year on from finding themselves in the same predicament.”
So, 1,100 children find themselves without means of accessing the work they have to do, almost a year on from finding themselves in the same predicament.
Of course, the council officers have been working unbelievably hard as well as reacting to weekly policy U-turns from John Swinney which they have to keep the telly on to hear about.
A national online school?
England has established a national online school with a standard curriculum. Apparently that’s not how we do it in Scotland. Well, is it not better than nothing?
It takes some going to underperform hapless Tory education chief Gavin Williamson, but when it comes to a well-led structured approach to education in this pandemic Scotland is nowhere.
We know that if you do not have unlimited broadband data the bills for online streaming can easily outstrip the heating bill. What if you cannot afford to pay the heating bill in the first place?
The total cost is to the life chances of the next generation of young Scots who face the worst job prospects since the Second World War.”
As ever, the highest cost of this SNP government’s incompetence falls on the most vulnerable.
The total cost is to the life chances of the next generation of young Scots who face the worst job prospects since the Second World War.
If only history lessons were available to SNP ministers on how to mobilise a nation in crisis. The cost of those history lessons to be streamed for John Swinney and his fellow ministers? Many would gladly chip in to pay the bill.