Exam results: Thousands of pupils discover their grades

This year's results based on teacher estimates after exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Exam results: Thousands of pupils discover their grades Getty Images
No exams: Results are being delivered today.

Thousands of school pupils have begun to receive their National, Higher and Advanced Higher results.

This year’s grades have been based on teacher estimates moderated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) after exams were cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Teachers have based their estimates on preliminary exams and coursework, while the SQA has taken into consideration the previous performance of the school.

Around 138,000 pupils across the country have been waiting anxiously to receive their grades – their stress amplified further by the great uncertainty caused by the ongoing pandemic.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sent her best wishes to those receiving their results.

She posted on Twitter on Monday night: “Thinking of all the young people across Scotland waiting for results tomorrow. The last few months have been so tough for you, so whatever tomorrow brings, well done! And remember, there are always options open to you. Good luck to you all.”

The SQA says it will publish the methodology it used to moderate grades when it releases the results.

At the same time it says it will publish its Equality Impact Assessment, which is used to ensure there is no discrimination against vulnerable people.

The office of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland (CYPS) says the SQA has not carried out a Children’s Rights Impact Assessment to understand which groups are at risk.

The CYPCS undertook its own assessment of the decision to cancel exams and found several children’s rights may been negatively affected.

It is now calling on the SQA to ensure the appeals and complaints processes are fair, transparent and directly accessible to young people.

“The appeals process must be fair, transparent and equipped to deal with potentially thousands of cases in the coming days.”

Jamie Greene MSP, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education

Scottish Conservative MSP Jamie Greene, the shadow cabinet secretary for education, called for assurances over the readiness of the appeals process.

He said: “Whilst we supported the decision in March to close schools and cancel exams, there are still many unanswered questions over the specific methodology the SQA is using to awards these grades and how national averages impact that process.

“The appeals process must be fair, transparent and equipped to deal with potentially thousands of cases in the coming days, to help minimise disruption for the many students hoping to attend college and university in September.”

Children’s rights campaigners are demanding new measures to ensure pupils are not disadvantaged by the grading process for this year’s exams. 

The campaigners are urging the SQA to give young people direct access to the appeals process rather than having to go through their school or college. 

They claim there has been a lack of transparency and communication with young people as to how their grades will be decided as well as the appeals process.

Scottish Labour education spokesperson Iain Gray also accused the SQA of “dodging scrutiny” by “refusing to tell us the disparity between state and independent school appeals rates last year”. 

He said: “Given the disparity has been so large in previous years, it is astonishing that the SQA does not routinely compare these figures. 

“Tomorrow’s results have been widely predicted to lead to an enormous number of appeals – but the SQA’s continued shroud of secrecy will make it more difficult to accurately assess the SNP Government’s shambolic handling of education, as well as the impact of Covid-19.”

The Scottish Government has said a bill to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law would be delivered within this parliamentary session.

It added a children’s rights approach is being embedded into its response to Covid-19 and its approach to recovery and renewal.

“Fairness to all learners, while maintaining the integrity and credibility of our qualifications system, has been our core principle. 

Spokesman for the Scottish Qualifications Authority

An SQA spokesman said: “Fairness to all learners, while maintaining the integrity and credibility of our qualifications system, has been our core principle. 

“A Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment, as well as an Equalities Impact Assessment, will be published on Results Day tomorrow (today). 

“On 19 June we published detailed guidance and information for schools and colleges to help them prepare for appeals. It is the same every year that an appeal is made by the school or college with the candidate’s permission, and this year should be no different.”