Labour demands abolition of exam appeal fees in Scotland

Calls to scrap the charging system for exam appeals in Scotland have been stepped up amid fears that state pupils are losing out to their private school counterparts.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets children at the Butterfly Nursery in Arden, Glasgow. Picture: John Gunion/The Scottish Sun/PA Wire
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets children at the Butterfly Nursery in Arden, Glasgow. Picture: John Gunion/The Scottish Sun/PA Wire

Labour fears it could obstruct access to university for working class youngsters and say abolishing the fees would make the system fairer.

Ministers have rejected claims that youngsters could be put a disadvantaged and insist appeals can only be made when there is a “legitimate query” about a candidate’s results.

The system was changed in 2014 and now sees the cost of these appeals falling on school budgets, but only if they are unsuccessful.

Labour has claimed previously that parents in private schools can effectively - through the school - fund appeals themselves, while in state schools this option does not exist.

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Labour education spokesman Iain Gray has now written to education secretary John Swinney demanding change. “These charges for exam appeals are unfair and should be scrapped, all they have done since your government introduced them is tilt the education system towards those who can afford to pay and those who cannot,” Mr Gray said.

“The cost of these charges now fall on school budgets. State schools have already seen huge cuts during this government’s time in office, with £1.5 billion slashed from local authority budgets since.”

The appeals process allows schools and colleges to challenge borderline results. If an appeal fails, the school is charged a fee _ around £10 for adding up the marks and £30 for re-marking a paper.

The Scottish Council of Independent Schools denied parents were being given the chance to pay for appeals which the schools themselves did not want to make.

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The most recent figures show that a private school pupil is three times more likely to benefit from a review of their exam than a state school pupil.

The 2015 figures shows that in local authority schools there were 9,584 appeals lodged, which represented 2.1 per cent of all exams which were sat by pupils.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “No young person is at a disadvantage through the results service in Scotland.

“A charge is only applied if there is no change to a grade following a clerical check or marking review.”