Pupils ‘at risk of lower grades due to unfair system’

Party raises concerns over the SQA adjusting pupils’ grades based on school's performance history.

Schoolchildren are at risk of receiving lower grades from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) due to “a secret and unfair system”, according to the Greens.

The party has raised concerns over the SQA adjusting pupils’ grades based on their school’s performance history.

Due to the pandemic, teachers will be entering estimated grades for students. But the SQA has said it will “moderate” the results based on historical performances of the school, not the pupil.

The Greens have been joined by other education experts who warn this could mean unfair results for pupils, as well as deepening inequalities in education.

Scottish Greens education spokesperson Ross Greer has pushed the agency to reveal its methodology as well as the results of a legally-required Equalities Impact Assessment.

However, the exam body has said this will only happen after results are delivered to pupils – despite concerns from the Equality and Human Rights Commission that the proposed grading system may be illegal.

Mr Greer said: “This secret grading system ingrains inequality by marking down those who already face more adversity, no matter how hard they have worked on their coursework.

“Teachers won’t be informed that the SQA are changing their submitted grades, never mind being given the opportunity to discuss this. This is deeply unfair and it only creates far more work down the line when a vast number of pupils appeal their grades.

“The SQA are undermining not only the professional judgement of teachers but the hard work of pupils with this secret moderation process.

“The agency must publish its methodology and the legally required Equality Impact Assessment now, so teachers can have confidence it is robust and know what to expect when the results come in.”

Research by the Scottish Greens shows the following schools have seen improvements in passes of five or more Highers of around 20% since 2015/16: Whitehill Secondary School in Glasgow, Mallaig High School in the Highlands, West Calder High and St Kentigern’s Academy in West Lothian, Holy Cross High in South Lanarkshire and Dunblane High School.

An SQA spokesman said: “This is an unprecedented year and we have worked hard, with schools and colleges, to ensure young people get the results they deserve. This analysis is speculative and unhelpful, particularly to young people who are awaiting their results.

“We have provided information about our approach, but we have also been quite clear that we will publish our full methodology and Equalities Impact Assessment on results day; the day we would normally publish information about our awarding processes.

“We have said all along that fairness to learners, whilst maintaining the integrity and credibility of our qualifications system, is at the heart of our approach.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code