Schools in Edinburgh's poorest areas had qualifications downgraded more than private schools, analysis shows

Schools in Edinburgh’s poorest communities were far more likely than private schools to have qualifications downgraded under the controversial moderation system used instead of exams this year, a new analysis has revealed.

Ian Murray went to one of the schools which lost out under this year's grading system

With exams cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis, the Scottish Government approved an alternative way of calculating pupils’ grades using algorithm which meant many teacher forecasts of their achievements was adjusted downwards.

But the system resulted in a huge disparity depending on postcodes and a school’s past attainment, rather than individual performance and ministers were forced into a humiliating U-turn following a pupil-led backlash.

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New analysis by Barry Black, a Glasgow University researcher and associate of the Urban Big Data Centre, has now revealed the full impact on pupils in the Capital.

The percentage of all grades downgraded at Liberton High was 46.1 per cent; while Gracemount High was 39.1 per cent; and Wester Hailes Education Centre was 32.8 per cent.

The corresponding figures were just 8.5 per cent at George Heriot’s School; 11.7 per cent at George Watson’s College; and 6.3 per cent at Merchiston Castle School.

Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray, a former Wester Hailes Education Centre pupil, said: “This analysis lays bare the unfairness embedded into the system with the SNP’s approval.

“The algorithm was deliberately biased against pupils from the city’s poorest areas in a move which risked jeopardising their futures.

“It is astonishing the SNP was prepared to bake inequality into the education system like this. Fortunately the government was forced into a U-turn, but this scandal will not be forgotten by pupils and parents in the Capital.”

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