OUTRAGED pupils have launched a petition and plan to protest the SQA after what they describe as a "classist" system of grading this year.

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%.

In response to the results, schoolkids across Scotland took to social media to express their anger and disappointment at the methodology used. 

The exam board’s criteria for moderation included the historic performance 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

This was done after, for the first time ever, a school year in Scotland went without exams due to the coronavirus.

Glasgow Times: A petition has been set up onlineA petition has been set up online

More than 16,000 pupils have now signed a petition calling on the SQA to “re-evaluate” their decisions. 

You can view the petition here.

Petition organiser Sarah McLauchlan said: "Pupils should get a chance to prove themselves individually.

"Results should be based off of personal performance and personal performance only.

"The SQA should have used prelims as they were done in exam conditions, tests done throughout the year, previous exam results and performance and teacher input.

"Teachers have known their students all year, so are the most qualified to predict results - not strangers in an office.

"Every child is different, so assuming just because they are from a deprived area they won’t do as well and children from privileged areas will excel is biased and unfair.

"It is completely unacceptable and wrong, especially when class should not be a basis for results which impact the rest of a child’s life."

A protest has also been set up by angered schoolkids.

The ‘peaceful’ gathering will take place at Glasgow’s SQA building on Robertson Street on Friday, and has attracted the interest of hundreds of people on Facebook. 

Full details can be found here.

Glasgow Times:

The First Minister said that without the moderation, a 19.8% increase of the pass rate among the poorest fifth of pupils would have been “unprecedented and therefore not credible”.

At National 5 level, the pass rate for the poorest pupils was 74% when teachers’ estimates would have led to an 84.5% pass rate without moderation.

For the least deprived, the 92.3% estimated pass rate fell to 87.1% after the SQA’s moderation.

In Scotland’s first school year without exams due to coronavirus, 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.

New schools without previous exam results were unchanged.

Despite the downgrading 124,564 results – 93.1% of all the moderated grades – exam pass rates rose at every level and would have been the highest on record without the SQA downgrading some submitted results, Education Secretary John Swinney said.

Asked about the SQA’s figures showing deprived children being affected more by the downgrading of results, Ms Sturgeon said: “What we want to make sure is that this year’s results have the degree of credibility that means that they are not so out of sync with previous years that people are going to look at them and say ‘they don’t make any sense’.

“As much as I would love to be in the position of standing here credibly saying that 85% of the 20% in the most deprived areas had passed Higher, given that it was 65% last year, that would raise a real credibility issue.”


She added: “Anybody who has a result, has passed a Higher or a National 5 today, can hold their head up for having a credible exam result, albeit without the actual exam.

“That’s why the methodology in the moderation system is important in order to do that so that people don’t look at incredible inflation and pass rates and say the whole system wasn’t in some way credible.”

Mr Swinney stressed that approximately 90% of moderation “involved a change of just one grade”.

An SQA spokesman said: “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.”