Scottish exams authority paid £140k to private firms to remark grades

Scotland’s exams authority spent almost £140,000 of taxpayers’ money drafting in private companies to help with the remarking of this year’s disastrous exam results.

A Scottish pupil opens their exam results

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) paid for the services of two firms to assist with the moderation of results, which resulted in 75,000 pupils being downgraded. The controversial system sparked an immediate backlash and was scrapped entirely a week later, with Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney both apologising to the young people affected.

The original moderation scheme resulted in 124,564 of the 511,070 grades awarded by the SQA being cut, with children from the poorest parts of the country particularly badly hit.

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It can now be revealed the taxpayer-funded body paid out a total of £139,290 to AlphaPlus and SAS for their assistance in setting up the system before it was scrapped.

Deputy first minister and education secretary John Swinney. Picture: Fraser Bremner/pool/Getty Images

Data released following a Freedom of Information request showed it paid statistical software company SAS £119,232 for its expertise, while AlphaPlus was paid £20,058.

On results day, the exams authority said SAS had helped it with “formulating a robust and deliverable approach for moderating estimates”.

It added that AlphaPlus had been involved “at each step in the process” of moderation.

Scottish Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray said: “The SQA have serious questions to answer about why they felt the need to spend money on private companies to do what is their core business.”

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