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Dundee tutor: Exam results ‘unfair’ as many Tayside pupils downgraded based on postcode

Lorraine Robertson with maths tutor Charlotte Chapman.
Lorraine Robertson with maths tutor Charlotte Chapman.

A Dundee tutor has branded the Scottish Qualification Authority’s decision to downgrade pupils’ grades “unfair” as many of her Tayside pupils have been left “heartbroken”.

Lorraine Robertson, who owns Robertsons Education Centre, based in Broughty Ferry said pupils from schools in deprived areas received weaker grades despite their ability levels.

Pupils with the same ability were awarded different grades based on the schools they attended, she said.

More than 100 pupils from secondary schools in Angus, Perth and Dundee had been putting in extra study sessions to ensure they were exam ready.

And many other pupils were awarded with D’s despite months of hardwork, Lorraine said.

But as exams were cancelled, results were based on a combination of teachers estimates and Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) adjustments.

However it is this grading method which Lorraine, a qualified teacher, believes has dampened the future of her pupils.

Many of my pupils who have been downgraded are devastated. Had they had the chance to sit exams I know they would have the results they worked hard for.”


Lorraine Robertson.

She said: “Parents and students contacted me after they received their results and it became very clear that something wasn’t right.

“For example, I had two pupils from different areas with the same ability and potential and both were without a doubt grade A students.

“But when it came to results, one from one school got their A while the other was downgraded to a B.

“The methodology the SQA used doesn’t make sense and I feel so heartbroken for them.

“They’ve worked so hard all year and now lots of them have had their futures impacted by grades which have been calculated based on where they live.

“Teachers have worked with the pupils and know them very well but the SQA have not even used these estimates. It was based off of historical school figures rather than the merits of pupils.”

Exams were cancelled this year due to coronavirus.

She said there was it was clear to her pupils from certain areas of Dundee in particular had been affected by the grade adjustments.

The tuition firm, which is made up of 12 local teachers, had helped students from a wide range of communities and schools across Perth, Angus and Dundee, including Perth High, Forfar Academy, Carnoustie High, Morgan Academy, Monifieth High, Grove Academy, St John’s, Craigie High School, Baldragon and Braeview.

Figures show more pupils from schools in deprived areas who were expected to be awarded qualifications actually failed.

Lorraine said these pupils would have passed their exams if they had went ahead as planned.

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She has praised the youngsters for their hard work but said celebrations had been dampened by “sadness”.

She added: “Many of my pupils who have been downgraded are devastated. Had they had the chance to sit exams I know they would have the results they worked hard for.

“I feel so let down and heartbroken for them. They have worked so hard all year and now lots of them have had their future impacted by results which have been calculated based on where they live.

“We also had some amazing results and I want to say how proud I am of all students. Every one of them worked so hard and I’m so happy for the pupils who got the results they hoped for but those celebrations were tinged with sadness for the ones who didn’t.”

Pupils have been encouraged to communicate with their schools to discuss the SQA’s free appeals service.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the awards were fair and were moderated to ensure credible figures.

Thousands of grades modified to ensure ‘credible’ exam result figures, Nicola Sturgeon says

Free appeals service launched for pupils

Fiona Robertson, SQA chief executive, told pupils: “I realise this has been a very unsettling time for you and your families but I hope you can have confidence that your hard work has been recognised and rewarded through our qualifications system, this year as in any year.

“Graded courses at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher have been based on teacher and lecturer estimates this year with some moderation of grades from SQA.

“If you feel you have not got the grades you had hoped for or if you feel uncertain about next steps, please speak to your school or college in the first instance.”

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