Pupils to protest SQA exam results at George Square

Organisers say pupils living in areas of high deprivation have been unfairly impacted by downgraded marks.

School pupils will hold a protest the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) offices to highlight the impact of the recent exam result decisions.

Organisers of the demonstration, which will be held in Glasgow’s George Square on Friday, say pupils living in areas of high deprivation have been unfairly impacted by downgraded marks handed out earlier this week.

The pass rate of pupils in the most deprived data zones was reduced by 15.2% from teacher estimates after the exam board’s moderation.

In contrast, the pass rate for pupils from the most affluent backgrounds dropped by 6.9%.

Erin Bleakley, who planned the protest, says someone’s background or school should not be a barrier to their future prospects.

The 17-year-old St Andrews School Pupil said: “We deserve the same life chances as young people in affluent areas.

“How can anyone expect to close the attainment gap when your hard work can be wiped out based on your postcode?

“There needs to be recognition that living somewhere that is termed an area of deprivation should not be something that prevents young people from progressing to further or higher education.”

St Andrew’s high school is in Carntyne, Glasgow, which earlier this year was identified as being the second most deprived area in the country, according to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.

Erin said she was already feeling nervous before her grades came out, and more so when she heard about the moderation system brought in when exams were cancelled due to coronavirus.

She said: “I did not think it was fair that we were being marked down on how past pupils had performed as we are all individuals.”

An SQA spokesman said: “This year’s results will be cause for celebration for many people but disappointment for others. While this is a strong set of results overall – up on 2019 – this year is no different.

“We would advise young people who feel they haven’t got the grades they hoped for to speak to their school or college first.

“Our appeals process this year will be based solely on the evidence presented by the school or college, for that individual candidate, on a case-by-case basis.

“The most disadvantaged young people have achieved better results in 2020 compared to both 2019 and the average results for the last four years.

“At grades A to C, the attainment gap between the most and least disadvantaged young people is also narrower this year for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher than for last year or the average gap for the last four years.”

The protest is set to take place at George Square in Glasgow from 12.30pm on Friday.

It was earlier planned for outside the SQA offices but changed to George Square on Thursday due to the amount of people showing an interest.

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