Up to half of the grades awarded at some Dundee schools to kids whose exams were cancelled have been downgraded from teachers’ predictions, a city councillor has claimed.
Michael Marra says Dundee schoolchildren have been particularly hard hit by the Scottish Qualifications Authority ‘scandal’, which saw a quarter of the grades estimated by teachers across Scotland adjusted, most of them downwards.
He has written council leader John Alexander and children and families convener Stewart Hunter demanding schools be allowed to automatically appeal on behalf pupils affected, fearing some families may not challenge awards before the deadline.
The SQA has come under fire for its moderation system adopted after exams were cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions, as schools’ past performance was a factor, leading to allegations that those in more deprived areas were more likely to be marked down.
Lochee Labour councillor Mr Marra said it was no surprise that Dundee, where seven out of eight council-run schools are in the most deprived areas, was particularly badly hit.
He said: “It is my understanding that some of our schools are looking at up to 50% of all awards being downgraded by dint of where pupils were born. It is a national scandal and a local disgrace.”
It is a national scandal and a local disgrace.”
Cllr Michael Marra
The council’s education bosses are understood to be giving a briefing on the subject on August 13 – the day before the appeals deadline for priority cases, including those with conditional university place.
But Mr Marra said an urgent change in policy was required to ensure that appeals were submitted on time for young people whose families may be less likely to demand their rights.
He urged the local authority’s education department to move to a presumption of appeal for all downgraded awards, with families permitted to opt-out, rather than the current system of appeals being requested by families.
He said: “The Scottish Government is now in a position where it can choose to defend the system or to defend Scottish children.
“In the event that it chooses to put the system first we must maximise any chance of justice for children in Dundee.”
Dundee City Council children and families convener Councillor Stewart Hunter said: “Councillor Alexander and I will respond to Councillor Marra in due course.
“Our schools have already started the process of examining the results, establishing where appeals will be necessary and will discuss this with pupils and their families in the coming days.
“The children and families committee will have a briefing next week to allow members an opportunity to discuss this.”