John Swinney rejects claims poorer Scots pupils were 'shafted' over grades

John Swinney has rejected claims that Scots pupils from poorer backgrounds have lost out in the controversial process for awarding school grades this year.

John Swinney defended the moderation system
John Swinney defended the moderation system

About 120,00 of the estimated grades submitted by teachers were "downgraded" by qualification chiefs, it emerged as the results came out yesterday. All qualifications were based on estimates this year because Coronavirus caused the cancellation of exams.

But thousands of parents and pupils have now signed a petition hitting out at the “moderation” process. They claims the system used Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA), which partly took into account a school’s results from previous years, meant youngsters in in schools with historically lower attainment, generally in more deprived areas, were losing out.

The Education Secretary insisted today that three out of every four estimates put forward by teachers were "sustained" by the SQA.

He added that the pass rate at National 5, Higher and Advanced higher all increased.

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"What I would accept is that there will be individual results which will cause disappointment," Mr Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland.

"That's why the final stage of the process was put in place by the SQA - an open appeals process, a free appeals process, which enables young people in consultation with their schools to come forward with evidence which would challenge some of the judgements that have been made.

"That remains open to young people and I would encourage any young person who feels disappointed by the result, who feels they should have had a better result, to use that service which is available to them."

Mr Swinney also rejected claims from SNP group leader on Inverclyde Council, Chris McEleny, that youngsters from deprived areas lost out. The councillor said yesterday: "A kid not attaining as well in a more affluent area will get lifted, but a bright kid in a school in a more deprived area gets shafted."

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Mr Swinney refuted this claim when it was put to him today.

"I don't think the data bears that out," he said

"In the most deprived communities, young people last year had a pass rate of 65.3%, that increased by 4.6% to 69.9%.

"In the least deprived backgrounds, young people had a pass rate of 81.7% last year and it increased by 2.9% to 84.6%.

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"That shows a larger increase amongst young people in more deprived backgrounds."

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