Scotland’s education secretary made an emergency statement at Holyrood yesterday afternoon, following days of protests by pupils, teachers and opposition parties over last week’s exam results. The row erupted after the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) revealed it had downgraded 124,000 exam results.
The SQA was tasked with issuing exam grades to school pupils this year, after exams were scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The body handed out grades based on teachers recommendations and a pupil’s past performance.
But the SQA amended 133,000 entries, with only seven percent adjusted upwards.
The vast majority, 124,000 results, were amended downwards by a full grade.
The SQA made the amendments based on each school’s past performance, which was heavily criticised as it failed to take into account the individual student.
The move led to a series of protests by pupils, teachers and opposition parties.
In response, John Swinney, Scotland’s education secretary and deputy First Minister, said he has told the SQA to reinstate all the downgraded results to those originally recommended by their teachers.
He also apologised to those affected, some 76,000 pupils.
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The Lib Dems and Scottish Tories have said they would back the motion.
The opposition parties said Mr Swinney had ignored repeated cross-party warnings about the regrading process over the summer and it had taken him too long to admit the system had failed.
Iain Gray, Labour’s education spokesman, said: “Why did he leave those young people twisting in the wind for a week, their hopes and ambitions in shreds?”
Jamie Greene, the Scottish Tories’ education spokesman, said Swinney’s 18-page statement to Holyrood was “the longest resignation speech in history, without a resignation”.
Nicola Sturgeon has also come under fire for the move, as she initially
vigorously defended the SQA’s handling of the debacle.
But on Monday she apologised to pupils and acknowledged they had made an error.
She said: “Despite our best intentions, I do acknowledge that we did not get this right.
I’m not prepared to have this year’s cohort of pupils, particularly from deprived communities, thinking that their hard work at school doesn’t count or the system is determined to be against them.”