SCOTLAND'S exams body is expected to be flooded with appeals after it admitted downgrading nearly a quarter of results this year.

There were fears yesterday that the system developed by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to replace exams cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis have disproportionately affected children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

SQA figures show a difference of 6.9% in estimated grades and grades awarded for pupils from the most well off homes.

But that number was 15.2% for those from the most deprived backgrounds.

More than a quarter - 26.2% - of grades were changed during moderation by the SQA - a total of 133,762 - while 377,308 entries were accepted unchanged.

The exam board's criteria for moderation included the historic performance of of schools and grades were adjusted "where a centre's estimates were outside the constraint range for that course", according to the SQA chief examining officer Fiona Robertson

New schools without previous exam results were unchanged.

Education secretary John Swinney said: “This year has been exceptionally challenging but these robust processes mean we have upheld standards so that all learners can hold their heads up and move on to the next phase in their life, whether that be further study, employment or training.

“All exam systems rely on an essential process known as moderation to uphold standards.

"This ensures an A grade is the same in every part of the country, making the system fair for everyone, and across all years.”

Pupils took to Twitter yesterday to share their disappointment at receiving lower than expected results.

Glasgow broadcaster Amna Salem wrote that her younger brother was among pupils who had been "thrown under the bus".

She wrote: “Got an absolutely defeated baby brother over here who did well in his prelims only to be completely shafted by the SQA who seem to be rounding down at least two bands across the board in what looks like a dedicated attempt to throw working-class kids under the bus.”

Scottish Labour's education spokesman Iain Gray said the scoring system was "marking the school, not the pupil".

He said: "The SQA have done this on the basis of each school’s past performance, marking the school, not the pupil, and baking in the attainment gap.

"They were told that this would be grossly unfair and it is.

"The SQA have also treated teachers’ professional judgment with contempt.

“The SQA will now be deluged with appeals. I hope they are ready to deal with them properly.”

Glasgow Times:

This year the fee for appeals has been dropped by the exams body in an attempt to create a fairer playing field for disadvantaged pupils.

The SQA has also pledged to process all appeals submitted by August 14 in time for UCAS to confirm final university places in September.

Overall, results were up across the board, including in Glasgow where the number of pupils finishing fifth year with one or more Higher rose by three per cent.

For those finishing fifth year with four or more Highers the number was up by 1.3 per cent.

Across Scotland, results showed the National 5 pass rate was 81.1%, the Higher pass rate was 78.9% and the Advanced Higher pass rate was 84.9%.

In 2019, the National 5 pass rate was 78.2%, the Higher pass rate was 74.8% and the Advanced Higher pass rate was 79.4%.

Swinney said teachers had overestimated pupils' grades and, without the SQA making adjustments, the number of passes would have been up on 2019 by 10.4% for National 5s, 14% for Highers and 13.4% for Advanced Highers.

Councillor Chris Cunningham, City Convener for Education, Skills and Early Years said: “Today is about celebrating the achievements and attainment of Glasgow’s young people.

“I know that the last few months have been challenging and anxious to say the least and I want to take this opportunity to thank our young people, teachers and school staff who’ve shown their dedication and strength in the face of adversity.

“The results being opened in homes across the city today are proof that our young people continue to raise the bar and improve year on year and this will be welcomed by all in these unprecedented times.

“There has been much debate and discussion about the exam contingency plans – this was a robust process in Glasgow and we must never forget that the most important factor is our young people and how we support and nurture them through the current pandemic."

Mr Cunningham added: “I’m delighted that the results this year are up across all indicators – with more of our young people than ever before achieving qualifications.

“Our young people and their teachers have worked incredibly hard and they all deserve to bask in the good news today.

“Schools will be supporting their young people over the next few days and on their return next week if things have not gone to plan – there’s always another solution and no wrong path.”