SQA Exam results: Scottish students to stage protests in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Pupils have spoken out about how disappointed they are in the SQA’s recent exam marking scheme and will be holding a protest to incite change from the Scottish Government.

Students will be holding protests today in response to a new exam marking scheme which saw results downgraded in schools across the country.

During the coronavirus pandemic, exams were cancelled and pupils were graded based on teacher estimates, performance of the school with prelim exam results and coursework – with the SQA allowing itself the ability to change the grade awarded by a teacher.

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More than a quarter of young people had their exam results changed which led to an outcry from pupils, parents and teachers across the country.

Pupils gather together in George Square, Glasgow, to demonstrate against the latest marking scheme used by SQA for their exams photo:JPI Media/John Devlin

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Edinburgh schoolgirl Sarah McLuachlan, of Holy Rood High School, described exam body’s approach as “incredibly classist and insulting” and has since organised a protest to incite change from the Scottish Government.

Speaking about the marking scheme Sarah said: “The SQA has created a class divide by basing results off of a school’s past exam performance (not the this years students) and its post code.

"This means thousands of teenagers who may have excelled in their prelims or received steady grades all year have had their results deflated - purely because they live in a more deprived area or their school isn’t as privileged as others.”

Pupils gather together in George Square, Glasgow, to demonstrate against the latest marking scheme used by SQA for their exams photo:JPI Media/John Devlin

The Edinburgh pupil will be joined by her peers in Glasgow, who will also be protesting the recent exam results.

Pupil Erin Bleakley, 17, has organised an event in the Scottish city to help highlight how pupils living in areas of high deprivation were disproportionately impacted by marks being downgraded.

The pass rate of pupils in the most deprived data zones was reduced by 15.2% from teacher estimates after the exam board's moderation.

In contrast, the pass rate for pupils from the most affluent backgrounds dropped by 6.9%.

A school pupil standing in George Square, Glasgow, to demonstrate against the latest marking scheme used by SQA for exams photo:JPI Media/John Devlin

The protest in Edinburgh will take place outside the SQA building on Friday, August 7 from 1pm while the Glasgow event is running between 6.30am and 12.30pm on the same day.

An SQA spokesman said: "This year's results will be cause for celebration for many people but disappointment for others. While this is a strong set of results overall - up on 2019 - this year is no different.

"We would advise young people who feel they haven't got the grades they hoped for to speak to their school or college first.

"Our appeals process this year will be based solely on the evidence presented by the school or college, for that individual candidate, on a case-by-case basis.

"The most disadvantaged young people have achieved better results in 2020 compared to both 2019 and the average results for the last four years.

"At grades A to C, the attainment gap between the most and least disadvantaged young people is also narrower this year for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher than for last year or the average gap for the last four years.''

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