Education secretary to make statement on appeals next week

Deadlines for publishing its appeals process have been missed by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Education secretary to make statement on appeals next week STV News

Pupils in Scotland are expected to hear next week what the appeals process will be for national qualifications.

It comes after the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) missed its deadline for confirming the appeals process for exams this year.

The issue was raised at Holyrood on Wednesday by Scottish Labour’s education spokesman Michael Marra who said that the public body had shown “utter disregard” for pupils and staff.

In response to an urgent question from Marra, newly-appointed education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville confirmed that she intends to make a statement on the appeals process at the Scottish Parliament next week.

She told MSPS: “I understand and appreciate that for our young people undertaking national qualifications, along with their parents and their teachers, this can be a naturally anxious and stressful time and I of course recognise the additional challenges that Covid has presented this academic year.

“However, I want to offer reassurance that across Scottish education, people are working hard on behalf of our learners to ensure that they achieve the fair and credible grades they deserve.

“The key message to learners is that your grade will be determined by your teacher or lecturer, informed by assessment tasks you have undertaken in your school or college, not based on an algorithm or statistical model.”

The education secretary added: “I appreciate that every approach must allow for appeals and we must ensure that we get this right and deliver a fair and credible process for that too.

“We are working hard with the Scottish Qualifications Authority to do exactly that and subject to parliamentary business, I would intend to make a statement to Parliament on this next week.”

Labour’s Marra said that a lack of clarity around appeals is causing “concern and anxiety”.

“It is unforgivable that teachers, families and most importantly young people do not yet know the conclusion of this process,” he said.

“The SQA has shown utter disregard for the pupils and staff involved and must be held to account. The lack of clarity around appeals is causing warranted concern and anxiety. 

“The SQA have treated learners with contempt throughout the pandemic, and missing this deadline is the latest example of that.”

Marra added: “I welcome the education secretary’s recognition that these exams by any other name will be subject to an appeals process and her announcement that the detailed answers on how the system will operate will come next week. 

“But the reality is that pupils, parents and teachers needed clarity weeks ago and the SQA must answer for its failures.” 

Scottish Greens education spokesman Ross Greer said: “It’s extremely disappointing that young people and their teachers will have to wait at least another week before they know how this year’s appeals system will work.

“Thousands of pupils are more than half way through their timetable of pseudo-exams, without any idea of the evidence required to lodge an appeal. There will now be very little time left to produce this evidence before the end of term.

“I am seriously concerned about the SQA’s ability to handle a significant volume of appeals and the effect this could have on university and college admissions.

“It was clear by spring that the SQA had lost the confidence of Parliament and the public, so it’s time for decisive action from the new education secretary.”

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