SQA should help pupils suffering from 2020's exams scandal to prove its human rights credentials

Scotland’s qualifications authority has been told to help students left in limbo due to the 2020 exams scandal in order to improve its human rights credentials, a leading expert has said.

It comes days after the SQA was revealed to have failed to undertake certain human rights and equalities duties in recent years by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

Dr Tracy Kirk, a human rights expert and lecturer in child and family law at Stirling University, said the SQA had failed to abide by the Equality Act during the 2020 exams diet by failing to give students a direct route of appeal leaving many students in limbo.

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Pupils are still suffering from the effects of the 2020 exams scandal 14 months on.

This element of the exams fiasco was changed in 2021 with students given the right for a direct appeal if they disagreed with any of their grades.

Calling for the SQA to provide an appeal route for students left without one in 2020, Dr Kirk called on education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville to intervene.

Raising submissions to Holyrood by campaign groups and the Children’s Commissioner, the expert said there had been “little engagement with the issues”.

She said: “These students, many of whom have protected characteristics, are still fighting for their right to appeal more than 14 months since exam results day in August 2020.

"Not only have they suffered as a result of the process not taking account of important personal information relating to their individual circumstances, but they have also been denied their right to a remedy. A remedy which Bruce Adamson has been publicly vocal in calling for from the outset.

"For the SQA to move forward in a manner which learns from failures to consider equalities and human rights, it is important that these failures are acknowledged and dealt with accordingly."

Responding, an SQA spokesperson said: “The 2020 and 2021 National Qualifications Alternative Certification Models were subject to a full and rigorous equality impact assessment process.

"The section 23 agreement between SQA and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission relates to historic practices and not to either of the last two year’s awarding processes.”

The Scottish Government was contacted for comment.

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