SQA 'ignored young people' on appeals says exams group member in scathing attack

Key representatives of young people have reacted with fury following the publication of the SQA’s exam appeals system for 2021.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville during the ministerial statement on National Qualifications 2021 at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh.

The anger follows the announcement by education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville yesterday that the appeals system would not include a ‘no detriment’ policy where learners cannot be downgraded should they appeal.

Reacting, Cameron Garrett, the only youth representative on the SQA’s National Qualifications 2021 group, launched a scathing attack and blamed the SQA for ignoring young people.

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The NQ2021 group was created in an attempt to consult different groups on the alternative certification model for 2021 following the fiasco around exam results in 2020 and avoid criticism around a lack of engagement with stakeholders such as teachers and pupils.

It includes representatives schools, colleges, and parents, and has representatives from the SQA and the Scottish Government,

The only youth representative came from the Scottish Youth Parliament in the form of Mr Garrett.

This morning, the youth MSP for Argyll and Bute launched a blistering attack on the SQA and Scottish Government and criticised the group for not allowing young people to have “equal input into discussions”.

On Twitter, the MSYP said: “As the only young person who sits on and @sqanews’s NQ21 group and the only member representing young people, I have not had an equal input into discussions around the appeals process this year at NQ group meetings. Young people have been let down and ignored by this process.

"Organisations such as @CYPCS (Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland) and SQA Where’s Our Say as well as the Scottish Youth Parliament have been calling for a no-detriment policy and exceptional circumstances to be taken into consideration as substantive points.

"Neither have been considered in this process.

“Young people deserve fairness this year and should be able to have confidence in the system. Neither is currently true.

"Going forward, you’re [sic] participation and engagement must improve to ensure young people have at least an equal seat at the decision making table.”

Scotland’s children’s commissioner, Bruce Adamson, also took to Twitter to criticise the appeals announcement and the lack of engagement with young people.

He said: “Some very strange examples of “co-production” being discussed at the moment. If you have very limited involvement of young people and then ignore their views, you can’t call it co-production just because they were in the room.”

An SQA spokesman said: “We have listened to the views of young people in developing this year’s appeals service. For the first time young people have a free and direct right of appeal on a broad range of grounds.

“Representatives from the Scottish Youth Parliament have been at every meeting of the NQ Group 2021 over the last 6 months. The Scottish Youth Parliament also runs our Learner Panel, which gathers the views of learners from across Scotland. All communication from the NQ Group 2021, including those directly for learners, are agreed with the Scottish Youth Parliament and they have been instrumental in the communications from the NQ Group to learners.”

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