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Wings Over Scotland

The status quo

Posted on December 12, 2013 by

In the light of this week’s dire warnings in the media that a Yes vote would mean supermarket prices becoming more expensive in Scotland than the rest of the UK (and the near-total absence of reporting of all the supermarket chains’ subsequent denials), we were intrigued when an alert reader sent us this link to a price-comparison site.


Maybe our cheese and beer’s just much nicer or something.

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    59 to “The status quo”

    1. ScotFree1320 says:

      Where’s Margaret Curran?  I want to hear her say, “There’s proof that food prices are higher in a dependent Scotland.”

      … and pigs will fly

    2. desimond says:

      Worst episode of  “Cant Cook Wont Cook” ever!

    3. Doug Daniel says:

      Now that’s very interesting. If it was the opposite way around, they could probably use some sort of excuse about the cost of living in London being higher than the rest of the UK and therefore the comparison isn’t fair because [INSERT SPURIOUS REASON HERE]. But that doesn’t work when the prices are higher in Scotland than in London.

      I look forward to seeing a more in-depth investigation into the claims in the media…

    4. Murray McCallum says:

      No. It’s all part of the “struggle” that wee Dougie Alexander was on about. Paying 1/8th more for basic foodstuffs is an accepted part of us being in the UK.

    5. Euan Bryson says:

      I read this and done a similar comparison with Glasgow as it is more densely populated and therefor more representative than the above. Interesting reading with one noticeable line reading “Groceries Prices in London are 6.72% higher than in Glasgow”:

    6. desimond says:

      Well that table answers the age old question :

      “What came first, the Chicken or the Egg price hike north of the border”

    7. MochaChoca says:

      Suppose they have to make up for the high cost of housing in London?
      oh wait…..they already do that with London weighted salaries.
      It would also be interesting to compare prices for Scottish produce between here and there.

    8. Craig P says:

      You could be right about the cheese rev. Have you ever had Lanark Blue? It’s amazing! (Though admittedly you won’t find it in a supermarket.) As for the beer, could be down to the lack of multi buy deals in Scotland perhaps?

    9. Helena Brown says:

      Some one does not know where to shop. Aldi, domestic beer 1.39, White Loaf 89p, etc.
      Otherwise I take the point that if you choose to shop in one of the “premium” supermarkets you are definitely paying more in poor wee dependent Scotland.

    10. Wayne says:

      I am not sure that table on its own tells us very much, as we don’t know what is being compared in terms of products and retailers etc.
      This is one of those scary stories that has to be one of the most boring and tedious ever.  It is right up there with the IFS trying to predict the economy fifty years in the future.  There are so many unknowns that it is impossible to say currently whether food prices would rise or fall after independence, all we can say right now is that prices are currently rising.

    11. Bunter says:

      Well I’ve finally cancelled my Herald subs after running with that rubbish the other day. I suggest we all make a New Years resolution to stop funding the MSM ( I know plenty already do) and actively campaign to suggest everyone do the same, for I am finished with them all.

    12. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “I read this and done a similar comparison with Glasgow”

      Obvious fake. They have a Glasgow price for lettuce.

    13. Les Wilson says:

      I think this points out that rUK supermarkets in an Independent Scotland will need to be more competitive, otherwise they are unlikely to hold their monopoly over both customers and suppliers from Scotland.

      I am sure that at least some of the larger French or German chains would be more than willing to fill the gap and they are every bit as good. also there is a likelihood of much more Scottish produce on our shelves, thus creating more jobs and all that comes with that. They do us no favours. 95%+ of the products on the shelves of these chains are from English producers, and that is not acceptable in my view.

      Here we have evidence of premium Scottish costs, on our basic foodstuffs and more. I do not think that they would even try to push them beyond the premium they already impose. This article makes it clear, we are already paying a price for being in the Union. In a free Scotland we would not be worse of, but perhaps much better off.

    14. stonefree says:

      There is something a bit uncomfortable about this “falsehood”
      We approach Christmas and folk are struggling  ,and “foods going up” exclaims the Daily Trash . Am I naive thinking that such statements could push someone over the edge…..Possibly I am

    15. GP Walrus says:

      “Obvious fake. They have a Glasgow price for lettuce.”

      That’s what they have to pay Glaswegians to eat it.

    16. MochaChoca says:

      I also switched the comparison to Glasgow, then Glasgow vs Birmingham, and Glasgow vs Edinburgh then Aberdeen vs Portsmouth.
      The gist of it is that there appears to be a large disparity between prices in general and that it appears to have bugger all to do with anything other than what they think they can get away with charging in any particular location.
      AKA supply and demand, independent or not, that will continue.

    17. iain taylor (not that one) says:

      Everything the big 4 sell comes from a mega warehouse near Watford, so our Fife carrots jump in a truck for a 400mile trip Darn Sarf. Then they are distributed to our supermarkets in Fife in anther truck with another 400 mile trip.
      It’s called “adding value” (I’m willing to admit they may go through the carwash somewhere along the line, so they’re sparkly clean & smelling of chlorine when they hit the shelves).
      Anyway, point is, it makes sense that the closer you are to the M25 the cheaper the stuff will be.  

    18. msean says:

      Looks like it might be the case that Scottish stores are possibly subsidising london stores in some lines of products,to help them be competitive in london area.Just a guess mind.

    19. Train Fares says:

      iain taylor (not that one) says:
      Everything the big 4 sell comes from a mega warehouse near Watford, so our Fife carrots jump in a truck for a 400mile trip Darn
      That’s simply not true. Kettle Produce in Fife which supplied the vast majority of supermarkets in Scotland with fresh produce (carroyts,sprouts and stuff) send to the nearest distribution center usually on the M8 for Scotalnd and further south for further south. Same goes for your potatoes which are supplied across the UK from Albert Bartlets in Airdrie.

    20. Ken500 says:

      Come Independence fuel/energy will cheaper in Scotland being closer to source.Less distribution costs.

    21. msean says:

      If those carrots are then processed then sent back,is the country of produce changed to uk rather than Fife/Scotland?If they are priced higher upon return to scotland,is that then counted as exporting less and importing more?Meaning of course that we suddenly have a carrot black hole.

    22. Ken500 says:

      Aberdeen M & S store was the higher earning store (pro rata) after Marble Arch, in the UK.

    23. Jingly Jangly says:

      Make sure you tell Magnus Llewellin  (Editor) of the Herald why you have cancelled.

      We all need to stop buying the unionist papers and cancelling our TV licences

      It took me a couple of weeks to get over not getting the Herald every day but now after several months I don’t miss it. I still get the Sunday Herald as I believe its impartial or even pro independence. Apart from the Weekly Sunday Herald and monthly Scots Independent I don’t get any printed newspapers any more.

      Monies saved go towards the campaign, and online activities such as  crowd funding polls, online news outlets like Newsnet Scotland and once “The Scottish Times” although I don’t read the latter much these days.

    24. Iain Henderson says:

      Part of the problem is supermarkets’ buying policy.  Pretty much everything is the same from Dovwr to Dingwall (remember the England strips for sale last European championships). In some ways it does make sense to centralise purchasing and stocking in this way. It is also inefficient and scarcely green. Independence will be good for the supermarkets.  Nonsense such as Sybies being labelled spring onions because the labelling has to be in English and poor dears from Hampshire wouldn’t understand it, would be stopped. (while Scots is a language the use of some words whilst speaking English makes it arguably a dialect – but either way its not for supermarkets to decide – or shouldn’t be). So branding remains but labelling is distinct. Similarly some products. Thinking bread and milk. Basically supermarkets need to think local for some products, regional for others and centrally only where justified. An independent Scotland would (I hope) not interfere too much but by small changes could make a huge difference to the Supermarkets’ approach, and save them money whilst being greener.

    25. frankieboy says:

      I asked Waitrose why they had almost no Scottish produce available in their store in Henley. After a month of me prodding them for an answer they replied stating they do not sell Scottish produce in their store in England because Scottish produce is only popular in Scotland. There goes the extra cost of transportation argument.

    26. chalks says:

      So we pay more and London gets the tax receipts…..this Union is great.

    27. Bunter says:

      @ jingly jangly
      Will do!

    28. Brian Powell says:

      Looking at all the evidence amassing on what the status quo means for Scotland, within the UK, I did start thinking again about how we would be seen by the outside world if there were a No vote.
      In the bubble there is Britain the world power and statesman-like politicians. Then in the rest of the world there is Britain, the nasty country of Europe, as judged by Europeans, there is the poodle of the US in the destruction of Iraq and destabilisation of Afghanistan. Now the mass spying poodle of the US, again.

      The long ago former power little regarded by India or China. The world center for financial corruption.
      Now how does it go for Scotland if we vote No, signalling we want to be a fully integrated part of this.
      We could get rid of nuclear weapons.

      We could improve the social fabric of our society; in terms of child poverty and worker protection, a better standard of living for all the people.

      A democratic voting system and free of anachronisms such as the House of Lords.
      But when presented with the genuine and real opportunity to do this, we actively decide not too, and vote No.
      Decide to be the first country to not want to be a country, and serving all of what is the UK. A UK we seem to largely not agree with!
      How far down the ladder of low self respect does one need to be to chose that option?
      How would we be classified outside the bubble? How would we classify a ‘country’ that chose that?

    29. HandandShrimp says:

      Morrisons and Asda can raise their prices if they like. I am sure Aldi, Lidl and even Tesco would be delighted if they did.
      Entering the fray on the behalf of the No side was pretty dumb on Asda and Morrisons parts. They will lose money over it.

    30. Marcia says:

      very dumb indeed, reading the backtracking since Monday morning has ben amusing. Others ill now think before they open their mouths.

      When I lived in London I used to compare the prices there with the prices back in Dundee. Providing you did not shop at Harrods or Selfridges you could buy your food at a lower price. London have all the street market where fruit and veg are far cheaper.

      Interesting to read of yet another Yes group launch today – The Third Sector;

    31. liz says:

      @Brian Powell – I couldn’t agree more, I think we will be despised by the rest of the world.

      I think it would be a good idea to subtly drop that into conversations with No folk that if we do vote no then we would have been the only country in the world to vote for dependence.
      Although they might disagree, I think it could plant a seed of doubt.
      I also think the only people who think Britain is great are the British.

      I remember a programme about the countries in the ’empire’ by Jeremy Paxman and he was godsmacked when no-one in places like India could think of any positive aspects from that time.
      Also re the point about the low polls on Yes from women – surely if they realise all the MSM including the dreaded beeb lied about the supermarket prices it would make them think.

      Another point is the Mail is supposed to be very popular with Scottish women.

    32. Albert Herring says:

      @Iain Henderson
      <spelling nazi alert> Syboes.

    33. Erchie says:

      Maybe in Aberdeen they only use lettuce in kebabs, but a nice mixed leaf salad with a balsamic jus is a staple side dish with our medallions of wild boar with garlic infused quinoa and pea sprouts

    34. Peter mirtitsch says:

      Being picky here, but LITER???

    35. Jamie Arriere says:

      Food an eighth dearer in Scotland than in London – sounds about right – think of the distance to market considering everything is grown, harvested and processed in London…oh, wait a minute!

    36. Andy-B says:

      Alex Salmond brought up the subject of supermarket food prices in FMQ’s to day, not only was the gallery laughing at the preposterous idea leaked by the fearcamp but, even Dastardly (Lamont) & Muttley (Davidson), managed a snigger.
      If it wasn’t so pathetic it might actually be funny, then again.

    37. Andrew Morton says:

      My Mother aged 95 always referred to sybies.

    38. MochaChoca says:

      “LITER” It’s from an international (US?) website, foreigners eh?

      Never mind, after Sept14 we’ll maybe be buying by the liter here too.
      Massive opportunity for the Scottish beer glass industry.

    39. Subrosa says:

      This is nothing new. When I returned to Scotland 20 years ago it was the first thing I noticed – the cost of my weekly shopping was at least 25% more than it was in Shropshire. Tried complaining when I bought strawberries and raspberries picked within a few miles of here and was told then had to be transported to a central distribution depot first. Then Tesco closed the Dundee depot so the fruit became even dearer.  Now I buy from the local shop. If he doesn’t stock it then we go without.

    40. Les Wilson says:

      Brian Powell 
      Truth is being “Brainwashed” is your answer. Just look at what the Scottish electorate has to put up with, it propaganda in the extreme. By so many, including our “elite” squad of “Proud Scots “, we need an International body to ensure democracy, then we would race it!

    41. Aucheorn says:

      ASDA do a bit of sponsoring at SNP Conferences.  Not a lot of people know that.  :-0

    42. Andy-B says:

      O/T   On the Daily (drivel) Record watch today, we have wannabe journalist David Clegg, (who else) give several inches to the council tax, with the headline, “Cuts warning over tax freeze”.
      Clegg typically and regretably predictable, pushes Labours rhetoric of how, Scotland will fall into the sea, if the freeze on council tax remains, the four two inch columns could have been written by Johan Lamont herself, keep trying Clegg one day you may actually, attain journalistic standards.
      Next up in the Daily (drivel) Record, is another journalistic minion, Andy Philips, who heads with “Eight out of ten to vote in indy poll” then predictably of a lesser tabloid scribe, he goes on to state how a YouGov Poll has shown only a 1% gain for the YES camp, Philips adds under his header that the 1% increase is all the whitepaper will achieve, well considering half the country is still waiting on their copy being delivered, the word PREMATURE Mr Philips springs to mind.
      Finally and I’ll be brief, Katrine Bussey of the Daily (drivel) Record, leads with her half page, diatribe against Mike Russel (Education Secretary) “F for Effort”, claiming that the SNP,s steering of the Scottish education system has lead to higher numbers of pupils, and lower numbers of teachers in classrooms.
      When infact Alex Salmond cleared the matter up on FMQ’s today, he stated when figured annexed in from 2012/13, the drop in teachers to class sizes was due to Glasgow City Council removing, a large amount of teachers in said period.
      Bussey of course is just exhibiting, Labours detrimental thinking, which of course as we all know is a long term attack on independence.
      How far has the Daily Record fallen with regards to PROPER journalism, too far and to think the Daily Record was the first tabloid in the world to publish coloured adverts, Oh! how the mighty have fallen.

    43. “Never mind, after Sept14” MochaChoca, yiv lost me! 

    44. MochaChoca says:

      I’m afraid it was an obscure reference to our forthcoming engagement with the international community, rather than by proxy. Maybe too obscure.

    45. gedboy says:

      ahh bisto the only gravy train that gives you the runs

    46. Hughiedoc78 says:

      All those prices are far too high, here in Aberdeenshire I can get everyone of those prices  cheaper.All except the tomatoes which i get six for a quid or a few more smaller ones for a quid and the cigarettes, cos i don’t know what price they are.

    47. Albert Herring says:

      I hope you’re not actually BUYiNG that pathetic rag!

    48. Andrew Morton says:

      I’ve just been watching, I’ve just been watching, I’ve just been watching FMQs. And greatly enjoyed the gubbing Johann Lamont got when Alex Salmond derided Glasgow Councils responsibility for the entire drop in teacher numbers.

    49. Grendel says:

      All this, and yet the people doing the same job as me are given a “London Allowance”!
      Despite them having a fantastic transport system, with far greater scope for ease of movement they get a greater travel allowance as well!

      In that case where’s the rural allowance for the poor buggers who do the same job, have to travel miles for a supermarket ( or even a basic shop) and have to pay through the nose into the bargain?

    50. Andy-B says:

      @Albert Herring.
      Well Albert my wife likes to read, the ladies columns, and the comments columns I have mentioned to her their stance on independence, and she agrees with me, but still she buys it.
      So I thought I may as well keep an eye on their pathetic attempts to derail the YES camp, and I’m glad I have, their relentless and sometimes subtle attacks on the SNP and independence, need to have an eye kept on it, so thats what I’m doing, once the wife’s done reading the gossip columns.

    51. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “All those prices are far too high, here in Aberdeenshire I can get everyone of those prices cheaper”

      I’m pretty sure Edinburgh’s not in Aberdeenshire.

    52. A2 says:

      Interesting if that comparison site were perhaps to add categories for higher education and pharmacy(both prescription and non prescription).

    53. wee 162 says:

      If someone can point out where I can get Marlboro for under 8 quid a packet in Edinburgh I’m all ears… It’s not massively out of date, but numbeo is generated from crowd sourced inputs and they don’t appear to adjust according to when stuff was entered. London is probably going to have more people entering stuff than Edinburgh so is liable to be closer to being up to date and have better info due to more inputs. Not saying this is necessarily wrong fwiw, just that it’s not guaranteed to be correct.
      Oh, and supermarkets don’t price according to costs they incur (or at least not only because of that) they price according to competition and ability of people to buy from them. If one supermarket starts pricing highly due to increased costs in Scotland, then their nearest competition will simply lower prices to try and drive them out of existence thereby lowering competition. The dearest supermaket which I’ve been shopping in in Edinburgh was a Co-Op based in Muirhouse. Absolutely ridiculous pricing which I suspect they justified due to having no other supermarkets that near it. It closed about a year after a massive Morrisons opened 10 minutes away from it… Meanwhile around the same time a co-op in Dalry Road opposite an Aldi had completely normal pricing.

    54. theycan'tbeserious says:

      Brian Powell :
      We wouldn’t be regarded as a country, but a third rate subservient British region with little or no respect foe ourselves….and the world will look upon us as such!
      A sobering thought!

    55. G H Graham says:

      No doubt some can find some things cheaper or some more expensive at certain times of the year when comparing cities in Scotland and in England.
      But when someone sweepingly claims that food will be more expensive in an independent Scotland as if independence in itself causes food prices to rise, they are either stupid or having a laugh or possibly both.
      Food prices as will all prices for anything more or less reflect what the market will support. That also means that some suppliers will charge more just because they get away with it especially if the there is a general ignorance in the marketplace.
      Most folks then have no opportunity to actually visit Aldis in Falkirk on a Friday and then shop at the same brand of store in Folkstone on Saturday. Thus there is a cap on consumer market intelligence amongst the general public.
      So any data that helps refute stupid claims that all supermarket prices will go up just because Alex Salmond is PM of Scotland is at least worth a look at.
      And that in itself is vastly more than any of the brainless broadsheets & tabloids are prepared to do.  

    56. velofello says:

      Extensive discussion and concern here on the price of a can of beans.Want to save some money? Here are two easy steps to take. Stop buying a daily newspaper.The saving with the Herald would be over £500 per annum. No longer be a customer of the BBC., saving £145 per annum. Total saving  close on £700! And how much is a can of beans again?
      And yes I had a visit of representatives of the BBC on why, after decades I had stopped paying their license fee. “Why should I pay to be lied to? ” was my response. I’m none the worse for not buying the Herald nor watching BBC TV, and so the price of a can of beans is not an issue for me.
      I’ve mentioned the Colonial Trick before at least once here. Buy in bulk cheaply from the natives, take the bulk produce to base, process it,package it, call it and describe it as something fancy and sell it back to the suckers, gift wrapped with notional added value.

    57. lumilumi says:

      Finns moan about the high price of food so it was interesting seeing this comparison, and I compared it with the prices here, in a mid-sized town in southern Finland, 50 km from Helsinki.
      There are many ifs and buts, for instance, fruit and veg prices have much seasonal variation, and different varieties of fruit, veg, rice, eggs vary in price. Or, for instance, what is “local cheese”? I took it to mean the most popular cheese you slice to put on your sandwiches (not the cheapest). I used today’s exchange rate between euro and pound (0.8397) and came up with some very interesting results.
      Of the 16 items on the list, 9 are actually cheaper here. Milk (semi-skimmed, i.e. 2% fat, the “ordinary” milk Finns buy) is about £0.75. A dozen free-range eggs £1.90, “local cheese” less than £6 a kilo, potatoes less than £0,40 a kilo, domestic beer about £1.20, cigs less than £5 (packet of 20).
      Chicken breasts were almost exactly the same price!
      Things that were more expensive in Finland were white bread (but people prefer cheaper and healthier rye bread here anyway), apples, tomatoes, lettuce (seasonal variation?), mid-range wine (wine is not sold in supermarkets anyway, anything above 4.5% abv is sold in state-owned off-licences) and imported beer. Oh, and plastic bags cost about £0,15 but they’re bigger and sturdier than the ones you get in Scotland, most are made of recycled plastic and people recycle them as kitchen bin liners. Plastic bags have cost something all my life, and many people bring their own baskets and shopping bags.
      I was quite pleasantly surprised by the results. And then I remembered that we Finns actually pay VAT on food! So my Finnish prices were inclusive of 14% VAT (24% for alcohol and cigarettes). So our pre-VAT prices are even cheaper! :-O
      I got my prices from where I mostly shop, a big “Prisma” supermarket, which is actually a co-op, and as a member of that co-op, I get “bonuses”, usually about 3% of my monthly spend. Lidl is slightly cheaper but they don’t have a bonus/loyalty scheme. And this Finnish co-op doesn’t automatically give money to any political party!
      Apropå Lidl. People here on WoS have been saying how Lidl in Scotland has more Scottish produce than the big four.
      It might be a company strategy. When Lidl came to Finland about 10 years ago, Finns were a bit… baffled and reluctant because it was full of these German brands that nobody had heard of… Today, Lidl advertise their Finnish brands, Finnish grown/reared produce. They’ve realised that a lot of Finns are prepared to pay a bit more as long as the food is produced in Finland.
      Finns generally think that food produced in Finland is cleaner and healthier and more ethical than food produced abroad, and they’re partly right. Our environment is far less polluted, our environmental controls and ordinary farming practises are nearly up to organic standards. It’s exemplified in the insitence that every cow has a name, not just a number.
      The cow names can get problematic. All the calves born in the same year are supposed to have a name starting with the same letter. A few years ago, when they got to the end of the alphabet (they’d skipped X and Z because those letters are not part of the native Finnish alphabet) they needed names starting with Ä (as in English ‘hat’) and Ö (as in Scots ‘mirk’ or ‘murk’) and all the milk cartons had this competition to come up with enough Ä and Ö names. 😀
      My grandpa used to have this dairy cow called Ämyri, and very apt it was. It’s an old-fashioned Finnish word for loudspeaker and she was the lead cow with a very loud moo.
      Why are food prices about the same, or even cheaper (when you account for 14% VAT) in Finland, compared to prices in the UK?
      I think one explanation must be the EU payments to farmers. Our higher CAP payments mean that farmers can produce food even for lower producer prices and still survive.
      Margaret Thatcher negotiated an EU “rebate” for the UK, and one of the things she gave away was agricultural subsidies.
      The latest travesty, just a few weeks ago, was when the EU gave convergence fund top-up payments because Scots farmers have the worst payments in the EU. And what happened? Despite a cross-party Holyrood letter to the UK agri minister, the money is now shared UK-wide. The money that only came to the UK because the Scots get the worst EU CAP money. Better together, eh?
      Sorry for long post. [wee embarressaed smiley]
      PS. My dad’s now fine. Thanks for all the concern and sympathy here on WoS on Tuesday.

    58. lumilumi says:

      I’ve got into this mood of comparisons. I found a BBC online article about energy prices in Europe.
      It turns out we in Finland have the cheapest consumer leccy. I wasn’t sure about the BBC figures, thought maybe they’d forgotten the transmision charge (about 1/2 of the leccy bill) so I went to a Finnish leccy price comparison site and it’s true, I can get leccy for about €0.06/kWh, plus transmission charge (about €0.05/kWh).
      The BBC site shows no price for residential gas for Finland, for the simple reason that almost nobody has gas. The few consumers that have it is for a kitchen range and the gas companies that supply their main industrial customers don’t bother billing their few consumer customers. A friend of mine is one of those, she has free gas for her cooking range. Nobody has gas heating.
      Most urban areas have district heating from local power stations and it’s included in the rent or maintenance fee. I live in a suburban area and my two-bedroom terrace (70m2) is heated by electricity and I moan about my huge leccy bills, on average £50 – £55 per month. For the past 7 years, I’ve pushed down my leccy consumption by 25% but my bills have remained the same.
      The BBC article had a map of fuel poverty (“population unable to heat home adequately”) but Finalnd wasn’t included, I suppose because such statistics aren’t kept in Finland. What is adequate heat, anyway? I think +14…+18 is adequate, maybe +20 or a bit more in the bathroom. Most Finns overheat their houses, +25 in the middle of winter or something like that. I’m a great believer in woolly socks and jumpers, and of course my eiderdown bedding (one of the best investments I did about 15 years ago).
      I think it’s not the price as such – leccy and gas isn’t particularly expensive in London, and propbably the rest of the UK – it’s the price rise that’s so painful.

    59. lumilumi says:

      One more thing on international comparisons.
      The BBC and Scottish MSM and then JoLa at FMQs made such a song and dance about primary 1 to 3 class sizes…
      It got me interested. What are primary school class sizes in Finland? When I was in primary school, it was about 30, but I know it’s come down. Well, I found the Ministry of Education latest statistics.
      It seems the class sizes are 18…21 through primary school.
      It should be noted that in Finland kids only go to school the year they turn 7, so in August, when school starts, 60% are 7, the rest will be 7 by Christmas/New Year. Six years of primary, three years of upper school is compulsory, then you can do three more years in either vocational or academic school. Twelve years altogether. You’re 19 when you’re out of the system, then go for apprenticeships, college, uni, whatever.
      Finnish kids only start school at 7, maybe because it’s so much easier to learn to read and write in Finnish (actually, many kids already read and write a bit before school starts). Everything’s written pretty much the way it’s pronounced. English spelling is a nightmare, English speakers need two more years to teach kids to read and write. (for comparison, that last sentence as it’d be written accoding to Finnish spelling rules: Inglish speling is a naitmer, inglis-spiikers niid tuu moor jiirs tu tiits kids tu riid and rait.)
      When Finns begin to learn English, they learn spelling by reading out the words by Finnish rules, nothing related to the way they’re actually pronounced. But most Finns spell English quite well, and even pronounce Engish quite well, with our own endearing Mika Häkkinen -type accent (I went to primary school with Mika Häkkinen. Didn’t know him that well but we’d say hi). Only the ones who know English really, really well make typical English-speaking spelling mistakes like their/there.

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