Pressure mounts on John Swinney for exam results U-turn

Pressure is increasing on Education Secretary John Swinney to do a U-turn on this year's exam results.

Scottish Labour says the deputy first minister should return grades to teachers' predictions.

And the Children's and Young People's Commissioner Scotland (CYPCS) wants the Scottish government to apologise.

Mr Swinney is due to make a statement at Holyrood on Tuesday after admitting he had "heard the anger of students" over downgraded qualifications.

He faces a no-confidence vote tabled by Labour in the Scottish Parliament when it resumes this week.

The Conservatives say they will support it and the Scottish Greens have indicated they would consider backing the motion.

Scottish Labour's education spokesman Iain Gray told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme that the "simplest and fairest" way would be to return grades to what teachers originally projected. "Anything else will fall short" he added.

The veteran MSP said Mr Swinney had only acted because he was facing a vote of no confidence in Holyrood so still had to go.

He added: "Both John Swinney and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) were told as far back as April that if they used this type of moderation this is what would happen."

SNP MSP Alex Neil said: "We have to resolve this and resolve it quickly.

"A very sensible suggestion would be not to have any of those downgrades and have what was recommended by the teachers, the teachers know the pupils best.

"Nobody downgraded below what they got in their prelims would be fair."

'Change the methodology'

Mr Neil said the "SQA has a lot to answer for" but added that Mr Swinney should not resign.

The CYPCS has called on the Scottish government to apologise and to change the methodology for calculating grades.

With no exams sat this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the SQA applied a methodology that saw grades estimated by teachers downgraded.

Pass rates for pupils in the most deprived data zones were reduced by 15.2% in comparison with 6.9% for pupils from the most affluent backgrounds.

The commissioner's office said children from more deprived areas had been downgraded based on the historic performance of their school rather than their performance.

In a letter to the SQA and the Scottish government, the CYPCS laid out a series of steps to make the appeal process for pupils fairer.

It includes allowing young people to disagree with the grade estimated by their school, and grades being awarded based solely on the evidence presented and not "statistical modelling or moderation".

'Anxiety and stress'

"If this results in significantly higher pass marks compared to previous years, no further adjustment will be made to grades to seek to bring them into line with those historic statistics," the CYPCS argues.

Nick Hobbs, CYPCS head of advice and investigations, criticised the SQA's "refusal to discuss its proposed methodology in advance" and said young people were now &quotRead More – Source

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