SQA: Vote of no confidence in education body tabled by Ross Greer after Shirley-Anne Somerville announces assessment appeal process

Holyrood is bracing for a showdown on Thursday after a vote of no confidence in the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) was tabled by Green Party education spokesperson, Ross Greer.

The result could see MSPs deadlocked with votes in favour of the motion split 64-64 with those against - forcing new Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone to break the tie.

It comes after Shirley-Anne Somerville, who took on the role of Education Secretary after the cabinet reshuffle two weeks ago, announced on Wednesday that, for the first time, pupils could appeal the grades they are awarded by their teachers with the SQA for free.

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Ms Somerville insisted, however, that appeals could see grades lowered as well as raised - despite widespread calls for a “no-detriment” system from children’s rights experts.

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In a proposed amendment to a Scottish Goverment motion on education tabled for Thursday, Ross Greer blasted the planned appeals process and called for the “exceptional individual circumstances” of some pupils to be taken into account.

If his amendment passes, it would see the Scottish Parliament state that it “regrets the additional stress and anxiety felt by students, teachers, parents and carers as a result of the 2021 Alternative Certification Model”, notes the “repeated underperformance of the SQA”, and “expresses its lack of confidence in the body’s ability to fulfil its duties.”

Opposition parties are thought to be preparing to rally around Mr Greer’s amendment.

Holyrood is bracing for a showdown on Thursday after a vote of no confidence in the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) was tabled by Green Party education spokesperson, Ross Greer.

On Wednesday, the Scottish Conservatives signalled how their MSPs might vote, taking to twitter to call for the SQA to be “replaced”.

The party told followers on the social media site: “Pupils are in a worse position than those who suffered from last year's exam fiasco.

“The SQA are not fit for purpose and must be replaced to restore trust among pupils, parents and teachers.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour’s shadow Education Secretary, Michael Marra, tabled a separate amendment - echoing Mr Greer’s call for a “no-detriment” appeals process - and calling for an “urgent review” of the SQA.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, who took on the role of Education Secretary after the cabinet reshuffle two weeks ago, announced on Wednesday that, for the first time, pupils could appeal the grades they are awarded by their teachers with the SQA for free.

On Wednesday, Ms Somerville rejected calls for a system that could not see grades lowered, claiming the process could only be “credible” if awards are “based on the actual attainment of pupils”.

Each opposition party has been approached for comment.

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Scottish Labour’s shadow Education Secretary, Michael Marra, tabled a separate amendment - echoing Mr Greer’s call for a “no-detriment” appeals process - and calling for an “urgent review” of the SQA.

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