'Rare results will be downgraded and specialist SQA appointed teacher will determine mark in National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher results if pupil and teacher disagree' , says Shirley-Anne Sommerville

It is rare a pupil will be downgraded and a second specialist teacher outwith a pupil’s school will determine a grade if a pupil and teacher disagree about an initial mark awarded, Shirley-Anne Sommerville has said.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville arriving for the ministerial statement on National Qualifications 2021 at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh (Photo: Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA Wire).

The news comes after the newly-appointed education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville announced that Scottish pupils will have the right to directly appeal teacher graded assessment marks given out this year.

As a result of the pandemic, pupils are being given the chance to appeal to the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) directly, breaking with the usual process of schools submitting appeals on their behalf.

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On Thursday morning, Ms Sommerville told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme that it is ‘exceptionally rare’ pupils will be downgraded given past SQA appeal experiences and would only happen if there was ‘clear evidence’ to do so.

She also clarified that an SQA-appointed teacher outwith a pupil’s school would determine a grade if a pupil and teacher disagree about a mark.

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Ms Sommerville said: “The young person absolutely has the right to appeal and at that point it goes into the appeal’s process, that is then taken to another teacher – a subject specialist teacher.

"So there’s no algorithm involved, there’s no discussion around previous school attainment.

"It goes to a second teacher who is outwith that school- an SQA appointee – and they look at all the evidence that the young person has gathered through their assessments and they will take a decision on that."The young person can be reassured that it’s someone who doesn’t know them, doesn’t know their background, doesn’t know what school they came from, can look at the assessment evidence and from the professional judgement, can take a decision on that.”

Talking about whether a pupil needs to consult their teacher when they appeal directly, Ms Sommerville said: “The teacher doesn’t have to say yes or no to an appeal’s process but I think it’s reasonable and I think it’s correct that young people would want discuss with their teacher’s how they came to that grade and the background to it- they don’t have to do that but it’s certainly an encouraged option.”

Pupils will be able to register their desire for an appeal from the end of this month, when they are provided with their provisional grades on June 24.

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