The Speaker
Wednesday, 29 May 2024 – 22:03
John Swinney, Scotland's Education Minister

Thousands of pupils in Scotland to receive upgraded exam results following major moderation controversy

Exam results for thousands of pupils in Scotland are to be upgraded after the Scottish Government agreed to withdraw results that were downgraded by a controversial moderation process.

Exams in Scotland were cancelled this summer due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic and results for students due to take exams were instead calculated based off teacher estimates, however, some results were moderated. Following SQA Results Day last week, there has been a massive backlash and outcry from pupils about the moderations which saw nearly 125,000 estimated results being downgraded.

Teachers submitted estimated grades for their pupils, however, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) then moderated 26.2% of these. Of those moderated, 93.1% of the grades were downgraded.

It has been claimed that pupils who lived in less affluent areas had their exam pass rates downgraded significantly more than pupils living in affluent areas.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Education Secretary John Swinney said that 124,564 results will be reverted to grades which were estimated by the pupils’ teachers. Mr Swinney said;

“Using powers available to me in the Education (Scotland) Act 1996, I am today directing the SQA to reissue those awards based solely on teacher or lecturer judgment”

“Schools will be able to confirm the estimates they provided for pupils to those that are returning to school this week and next.”

Mr Swinney has said he was sorry for the “feeling of unfairness”, however, opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament are pushing for a vote of no confidence to oust him from his position. 

The change in grades is expected to see higher pass rates for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications, versus the rates that were achieved under the moderated grades.

Pupils in England will be hoping for a smoother results day when A-Level results are announced this Thursday, however, there are fears that a similar situation may occur as results have been calculated based on an algorithm that relies on a school’s recent exam history, each pupil’s past exam results and also estimated grades from teachers.

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