Young people ‘ignored’ over process to appeal grades

Scotland's education secretary has said young people will be able to make free, direct appeals to the SQA.

Young people ‘ignored’ over process to appeal grades Getty Images

The only young person on a group charged with creating an alternative to exams has hit out at the new qualification appeals process.

It comes after education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said young people will be able to make free, direct appeals to the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

The decision was made last year to cancel exams and rely on teacher-reported grades for final marks.

But, reports in recent months have claimed that pupils are being forced to sit exam-style assessments in class.

Somerville said the appeals process would be “symmetrical”, meaning that grades could be marked down as well as up – as is the case in other years – and that exceptional circumstances are not being taken into account.

Cameron Garrett, who serves as a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, was the only young person who sat on the National Qualifications 2021 group and claims the voice of young people was not heard when the appeals process was being devised.

On Twitter, he wrote: “As the only young person who sits on @sqanews’s NQ21 group and the only member representing young people, I have not had an equal input into discussions around the appeals process this year at NQ group meetings.

“Young people have been let down and ignored by this process.

“Organisations such as (Children and Young People’s Commissioner) and (SWA: Where’s Our Say?) as well as (Scottish Youth Parliament) have been calling for a no-detriment policy and exceptional circumstances to be taken into consideration as substantive points. Neither have been considered in this process.”

He added: “Young people deserve fairness this year and should be able to have confidence in the system. Neither is currently true.

“Going forward, you’re (sic) participation and engagement must improve to ensure young people have at least an equal seat at the decision making table.”

Scottish Youth Parliament vice chair, Liam Fowley, said the process was “not fit for purpose”, adding: “It’s another example of young people being an afterthought.

“We’ve been tirelessly representing young people’s views and experiences for months – only for it to be ignored by the SQA.

“Young people have been let down.”

The new appeals process received criticism from across the political spectrum, with Scottish Greens education spokesman, Ross Greer, saying it creates a “perverse gamble” for young people.

Through the new qualifications model, Greer said, teachers would almost certainly send the best evidence of pupils to the SQA, meaning that any subsequent evidence that could be sent as part of an appeal could see their grade dropped further.

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