The National:

AS readers may already be aware, I’ve been a bit critical of the Scottish Government’s handling of education over the last few years. Ok…maybe more than "a bit".

Whether the issue has been the imposition of damaging standardised testing, the range of inequalities that poison the system, the failure to protect young people during a global pandemic or just the general politicisation of schooling, I’ve never had a problem calling out the SNP when they get it wrong – and they get it wrong a lot!

There are times when this has made me less than popular with a section of independence supporters, but that’s ok. Opponents of the SNP have made extensive use of my work over the years, and quite right too - governments need to be held to account, and that means that information has to be available whether they like it or not.

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But that doesn’t necessarily mean that opposition parties are always acting in good faith. Sometimes they’re just looking to use schools, and our kids, to score a few political points or even, if they get really lucky, take credit for a resignation.

This is a problem that becomes particularly prominent in the run up to an election that those parties already know they have zero chance of winning.

And that seems to be exactly what is driving the current furore over the forthcoming Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report into the state of Scottish education.

It was commissioned by the Scottish Government, and is almost certainly pointless, but it has become controversial due to the fact that it isn’t going to be published until after the election in May.

A draft of the report has, however, been produced and shared with government, and opposition MSPs have been demanding that this is released.

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On the face of it that may seem reasonable, but today we have been able to confirm that the OECD has refused to allow the preliminary report to be published. In a letter to the government they describe the draft document as “confidential”, confirming that “it is protected and cannot be published and disseminated to the public". This is precisely what anyone familiar with the process would have been expecting.

Crucially, opposition MSPs received this information, as well as a summary of the report contents, yesterday – so why did some of them then set out to present it all as some grand conspiracy to shield the SNP from criticism?

According to the Greens’ Ross Greer, who shared the OECD correspondence on Twitter, they are “actively misleading people as part of their relentless campaign to undermine the Scottish Parliament".

It’s hard to disagree with that assessment, and political desperation is no excuse.

I am, as ever, adamant that the government must be held to account for its handling, and mishandling, of education (how about that interview, John?) and would argue that I’ve probably done more to ensure that than the vast majority of people paid to do so in Holyrood.

But honesty matters – or at least it should. There are plenty of problems in Scottish education and the very last thing we need is serious, systemic, life-altering failings being obscured by transparent party-politicking.

As politicians of all stripes are always so keen to say (when it suits them): our kids deserve so much better.