Figures published by Scotland’s exam body have shown the extent to which pupils from the most deprived backgrounds had their results downgraded compared to those in wealthier areas.
Following the cancellation of this year’s exams due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a methodology was applied whereby grades estimated by teachers were downgraded based on criteria – including the historic performance of the school.
However concerns were raised about the fairness of the algorithm after it was revealed pupils in the most deprived areas were more likely to have their estimates downgraded compared to those from the most affluent backgrounds.
Now, after a freedom of information request from The Ferret, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has published a breakdown of how the Higher grades at each school across Tayside and Fife were moderated.
The SQA moderation figures showed that before teacher estimates were accepted, 39.2% of all Highers at Braeview Academy were adjusted down by the SQA.
The figures also show that 21.6% of the Higher results at the school were adjusted from ‘pass’ to ‘fail’.
Scottish Government data show that 47% of pupils at Braeview live in one of Scotland’s most deprived areas.
At Craigie High School, where more than 60% of pupils come from one of the most deprived areas in the country, 29.2% of teacher estimates for Highers were downgraded.
Of these, 13.4% were downgraded from a ‘pass’ to a ‘fail’.
In comparison, Grove Academy saw 16.2% Higher results downgrade – with 7.2% adjusted from ‘pass’ to ‘fail’.
Figures show just six percent of pupils at the Ferry secondary school live in deprivation.
The High School of Dundee, the city’s only fee paying school, saw 13.4% of teacher estimates for Highers downgraded (5.4% of them being downgraded from a pass to a ‘fail’).
Both these figures were the lowest out of all Dundee’s schools.
Responding to the SQA’s figures, a Dundee City Council spokesman said: “We are analysing exam data and we will report that to committee at a future date.”
At Arbroath Academy, where more than a quarter of pupils live in the most deprived areas, 29.8% of Higher results were downgraded by the exam body.
Of these, 20.5% were moderated from a ‘pass’ to a fail’. Just 0.8% of this year’s Highers were adjusted upwards.
At Monifieth High School, 23.9% of the Higher results were adjusted downwards by the SQA’s algorithm – 10.6% of these adjusted from a ‘pass’ to a ‘fail.
A higher percentage of pupils at Monifieth High also had their results moderated upwards, with the figures showing 2.2% of teacher estimates for Highers adjusted up.
Data from the Scottish Government shows that less than 5% of pupils at Monifieth High live in one the most deprived areas in Scotland.
Angus Council has been approached for comment.
At Levenmouth Academy, where more than more than half of pupils live in one of Scotland’s most deprived backgrounds, 37.7% of the Higher grades were moderated down by the SQA.
Of these, 22.8% were adjusted from a ‘pass’ to a ‘fail’. Just 1% of the Higher results were moderated upwards by the exams authority.
In comparison, just 18.3% of Higher grades at Madras College were downgraded – with 5.4% of the results falling from a ‘pass’ to a fail.
However less pupils had their teacher estimates adjusted upwards when compared to Levenmouth Academy, with the figures showing that just 0.8% of Higher grades were increased.
Government figures shows that less than one percent of pupils who attend the St Andrews school live in deprivation.
Fife Council has been approached for comment.
Perth and Kinross
According to government data, more than a fifth of pupils who attend St John’s RC Academy in Perth live in deprivation.
Before teacher estimates were accepted, 30.7% of this year’s Higher results at the school were downgraded, with 12.6% adjusted from a ‘pass’ to a fail’.
Just one percent of pupils had their grades amended upwards by the SQA.
In comparison, Kinross High School – where just over one per cent of pupils live in deprivation – 14.3% of Higher grades were adjusted down.
The figures also show that of these, 6.8% were amended from a ‘pass’ grade down to a ‘fail.’
Moreover, a higher percentage of pupils at Kinross High had their Higher grades amended upwards when compared to St John’s Academy – with the SQA data showing that 2.9% of results were adjusted up.
Perth and Kinross Council has been approached for comment.