Scots exam appeal charges fail the fairness test

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PUPILS in state schools are being priced out of a “second chance” in their exams after the number of appeals plummeted by 75 per cent since new charges were ­introduced.

Labour says the system now favours private schools where twice the proportion of appeals are lodged — and some parents are funding appeals themselves when youngsters don’t get the grades they want.

The Scottish Government insisted the reduction, in both state and private schools, is because of a change in the rules which makes it harder to appeal.

45% of Scots pupils taking Highers to sit old exam

Costs include £10 to check if marks have been added up correctly and £39.75 for a full review of marking. While there is no charge if the appeal is successful, invoices are issued to schools if it is unsuccessful.

Nicola Sturgeon came under fire over the issue at First Minister’s Questions yesterday.

New figures published by Scottish Labour show the number of state school appeals in Scotland has fallen by 55,000 – more than 75 per cent – in the past year. Labour deputy leader Kezia Dugdale said: “The reality is that parents of private school pupils can put their hands in their pockets to give their kids a second chance but state school parents can’t. The reality is that the SNP’s appeals charges mean the system now favours private school pupils more than ever. That’s not right.

“The SNP’s record on making our education system fairer is one of failure.”

The proportion of appeals by private school pupils now stands at 3.6 per cent, compared with 1.5 per cent in state schools.

The new system of charging for appeals was introduced last year, as council budgets are squeezed. They are invoiced if an appeal is unsuccessful.

But in private schools, it recently emerged, parents can pay the schools to lodge appeals.

Ms Sturgeon said the appeals system was “right and proportionate”and gave “young people the best opportunity of fulfilling their potential at school”.

The success rate of appeals from state school pupils – 26 per cent – is higher than for private school pupils, at 24 per cent.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman added: “A key change in the system was to end the process by which a wide range of supporting material could be submitted to the SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) as part of the appeal as evidence of a pupil’s ability.

“That simply does not happen under the new system. This was always expected to significantly reduce the number of appeals, given that we have significantly reduced the grounds for appeal.”

Ms Sturgeon also faced criticism when it emerged the number of college places in key science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects has fallen from 86,000 to 56,000 since the SNP came to power in 2007. Conservative leader Ruth David­son said: “This government is failing on science and maths. These are college courses that lead to jobs and they’ve been slashed by a third.”

It emerged this week fewer than a third of pupils will sit new science and maths exams.

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