Tuesday 11th August 2020,
North Edinburgh Community News

Scottish Government U-turn over exam results

Pupils whose results were downgraded by the SQA are to receive new grades based solely on teacher estimates.

The SQA’s alternative certification model was put in place after exams were cancelled due to coronavirus (COVID-19). 

After listening to the concerns of affected young people, parents and teachers over the last week, Ministers are directing the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to re-issue downgraded awards solely on the basis of teacher judgement, without reference to historical patterns.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney today apologised to the 75,000 young people whose estimated mark was reduced by the SQA and said that the downgraded awards risked ‘young people, particularly from working class backgrounds may lose faith in education and form the view that no matter how hard you work, the system is against you.’

Mr Swinney said “I have listened and the message is clear. They don’t just want an apology, they want to see this fixed and that is exactly what I will now do. To resolve this issue all downgraded awards will be withdrawn. I am directing the SQA to re-issue those awards based solely on teacher or lecturer judgement.

“We now accept that the risk of undermining the value of qualifications is outweighed by a concern that young people, particularly from working class backgrounds, may lose faith in education and form the view that no matter how hard you work, the system is against you. 

“Education is the route out of poverty for young people in deprived communities and we cannot risk allowing that view to take hold.

“The SQA will issue fresh certificates to affected candidates  as soon as possible and, importantly, will inform UCAS and other admission bodies of the new grades as soon as practical in the coming days to allow for applications to college and university to be progressed.

“I would like to thank all of Scotland’s children, young people and adult learners for the incredible resilience they have shown throughout the COVID-19 epidemic. We are immensely proud of all that they have achieved. I hope that our pupils now move forward confidently to their next step in education, employment or training with the qualifications that teachers or lecturers have judged were deserved.

“We will look to learn lessons from the process to awarding qualifications this year that will help to inform any future actions. An Independent Review, led by Professor Mark Priestly of Stirling University, will look at events following the cancellation of the examination diet and given the urgency, I have asked for an initial report with recommendations on how we should go forward this coming year within five weeks.”

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