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Thu, 29 October 2020

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Almost 76,000 Scottish pupils get exam results upgraded after U-turn

Almost 76,000 Scottish pupils get exam results upgraded after U-turn

The Scottish Education Secretary announced the U-turn on Tuesday

3 min read

Almost 76,000 Scottish pupils are set to get their exam results upgraded following a U-turn by ministers.

All pupils who had their exam results downgraded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) will be reissued with grades based on teacher or lecturer judgement, Scottish Education Secretary John Swinney has announced.

The change in policy follows widespread criticism and protests at the SQA-moderated results which came out last week.

Around 134,000 teacher estimates were adjusted by the exam board, with just under 76,000 pupils having one or more results lowered.

Pupils from poorest backgrounds were hardest hit, with results being downgraded based on a school’s past performance rather than a pupil’s individual ability.

The pupils impacted will now be issued with new certificates based solely on teacher judgement, without reference to historical patterns.

Mr Swinney apologised to the young people whose estimated marks were reduced by the SQA and admitted that the Scottish Government “got this wrong”.

He said: “These are exceptional times, and in exceptional times truly difficult decisions are made. In speaking directly to the young people affected by the downgrading of awards – 75,000 pupils whose teacher estimates were higher than their final award – I want to say this: I am sorry.

“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"To resolve this issue all downgraded awards will be withdrawn.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.

He added: “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."

In addition to adjusting exam results to reflect teacher estimates, pupils whose entries were adjusted up by the SQA will retain the higher grade.

The U-turn will put further pressure on Education Secretary Gavin Williamson ahead of A-Level results day in England on Thursday.

Labour have already called on ministers to ensure English pupils from the poorest backgrounds are not impacted by the same algorithmic calculation when results are released.

Speaking last week, shadow education secretary Kate Green said: "Young people deserve to have their hard work assessed on merit, but the system risks baking in inequality and doing most harm to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, those from Ethnic Minority groups and those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities."

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