BBC Scotland defends ‘scrap’ claim on its P1-assessment-vote news bulletins

News bulletins claiming MSPs had voted to “scrap” P1 assessments, despite the motion merely asking they be halted, were not misleading as some MSPs who voted had wanted them scrapped, BBC Scotland has claimed.

The broadcaster was responding to a complaint after radio and TV news bulletins reported that “MSPs have voted in favour of scrapping standard assessments for primary one children in Scotland.”



The bulletins followed a vote in the Scottish parliament earlier that day.  However the motion being voted on hadn’t called for Primary One assessments to be scrapped outright, but had merely called for them to be halted pending a review of new evidence.

The motion, lodged by Tory MSP Liz Smith, called on the Scottish Government “to halt the tests in P1 and to reconsider the evidence and the whole approach to evaluating the progress of P1 pupils.”

In a complaint submitted to the BBC, the complainant wrote: “MSPs did not vote to scrap P1 assessments. A motion specifically calling for them to be scrapped was indeed lodged on the 10th Sept, but never voted on.”

A motion calling for P1 assessments to be scrapped was lodged one week prior to the vote on Liz Smith’s motion.  However the ‘scrap’ motion, lodged by Labour MSP Iain Gray, was never put to a vote.

The complaint added: “BBC Scotland needs to acknowledge it inadvertently misled viewers on not one, but two occasions, and issue a correction on the programmes on which the errors were made.”

Responding, the Deputy Head of News and Current Affairs insisted the wording of the motion was not important and that it was clear MSPs were in fact voting to scrap the policy.

The official said: “The word ‘halted’ was indeed used in the parliamentary motion; but all four opposition parties made clear that, in voting for the Conservative motion, they wanted the standardised assessments in primary 1 to end completely.”

The official listed several opposition MSPs who had made statements during the debate and argued the statements were sufficient to warrant BBC claims parties were indeed voting to scrap the P1 assessments.

The official added: “Our reporting teams recognised that, while the word in the motion was “halted” – which could mean stopped permanently or temporarily – the intention of the opposition parties was clearly, from their own words, to bring the whole exercise in Primary 1 to a permanent halt or, in other words, to scrap them.

“Their use of both words was not, as you suggest, a question of correctness or incorrectness; but rather a nuanced reflection of the mood of the Chamber during the debate which they were reporting.”

However footage from STV News showed motion author Liz Smith stating clearly she was merely very sceptical about P1 assessments.

The Tory MSP told reporter Colin Mackay: “On primary one I’m now very sceptical about whether we need tests in the way that we supported in 2016.”

Responding to the BBC response, the person who lodged the complaint said: “This is an incredible reply from BBC Scotland.

“If the wording of a motion is to be disregarded in favour of second guessing the thoughts of MSPs who took part in the vote and the ‘mood’ in the chamber, then what is the point of a motion at all?

“There was already a motion calling for P1 tests to be scrapped, but it was never put to the vote.

“If BBC Scotland believes this kind of reporting acceptable then what else are they second-guessing and redefining based on ‘mood’, when actual words don’t suit their news agenda?”

The complaint will now be re-submitted to BBC Scotland as per the requirements set out in the complaints process.

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7 thoughts on “BBC Scotland defends ‘scrap’ claim on its P1-assessment-vote news bulletins

  1. John

    It’s not the words , it’s the way BBC Scotland manipulates them to suit their SNP , out , out out ,agenda ! . Pathetic ! .

  2. Independent Woman

    We protest outside the BBC. We send in complaints to the BBC. Two representatives of those who complain about the BBC had a meeting with BBC officials. We refuse to pay the licence fee.

    Nothing changes.

    The complaints I make are dealt with in a superficial, dismissive way. I don’t have the persistence to follow them up as I could do in some cases, at least. The replies can usually be summed up as “We can do what we like, so ya boo sucks to you.”

    The complaint above was on the grounds of inaccurate reporting. One of the aims of the BBC is to inform. Inform means give the facts. Nothing else. The public can draw its own conclusions from the facts, if they are accurately and honestly presented.

    There are two options to explain the behaviour of the BBC.

    One is that the BBC employs staff which genuinely cannot report accurately because they lack the investigative skills and do not have the necessary language skills to put together a report that reflects the facts of a story.

    The other is that the BBC is actively and openly working to denigrate the Scottish government, to make sure that any negative story is given prime time coverage while burying anything that reflects well on the Scottish Government.

    Maybe it is a mixture of the two.

  3. stewartb

    Glad to learn than the complainant is not giving up.

    There are some times than I feel that the object of complaints to the BBC and subsequent BBC responses may have significance only in the ‘eyes of the beholder’ but this example is clear cut and the BBC response ‘incredible’.

    The clip of the Tory education spokesperson and motion author simply reinforces how wrong the BBC was in this instance and how unsound is its attempt at justification.

  4. gregor

    Rogue BBC asserts that the political agenda of MP/MSP’s takes precedent over official parliamentary motions (and public serving journalism)

    Fake News BBC will take it upon itself to dictate what the political agenda is.

    YOU plebs are too stupid to comprehend facts and democratic discourse.

  5. Robert Graham

    Half of Scotland are likely living in a parallel universe if they get their news from the MSM ,the guff they are digesting is full of distorted views , this universe they’re inhabiting doesn’t exist it’s la la land, so many of them are going to be very disappointed when the truth finally emerges from under the MSM Lies led by the BBC in Scotland.
    Wakey Wakey people this is serious and it will affect you personally.

  6. Brian Powell

    Hang on, 61 wanted it passed, and some wanted it halted, and some wanted it stopped ,so there wasn’t a majority for stopping it only to have it re-assessed.
    The motion wasn’t for stopping it.

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