Monday, 28 Sep 2020

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon apologises to pupils over controversial exam results

Scotland’s first minister has apologised to pupils affected by the controversial downgrading of exam results.

“Despite our best intentions, I do acknowledge we did not get this right and I’m sorry for that,” Nicola Sturgeon said.

Pupils in the most deprived areas of Scotland had their exam pass rate downgraded by more than twice that of students from the wealthiest parts of the country.

Exams for nationals, highers and advanced higher courses were scrapped this year due to the coronavirus lockdown, with teachers instead submitting estimated grades based on students’ previous results, predicted attainment and evidence of their past work.

The grades were then looked at by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), which has moderated 26.2% of them, while leaving the rest unchanged.

Of those grades that were moderated, 93.1% were downgraded, affecting 124,564 pupils.

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%.

The first minister said: “We will be taking steps to ensure that every young person gets a grade that recognises the work they have done.

“Our concern – which was to make sure that the grades young people got were as valid as those they would have got in any other year – perhaps led us to think too much about the overall system and not enough about the individual pupil.

“That has meant that too many have lost out on grades that they think they should have had and also that that has happened as a result of not of anything they’ve done but because of a statistical model or an algorithm, and in addition that burden has not fallen equally across our society.”

She added: “Despite our best intentions, I do acknowledge we did not get this right and I’m sorry for that.

“The most immediate challenge is to resolve the grades awarded to pupils this year.

“We will not expect every student who has been downgraded to appeal.”

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