Many Grantown pupils to get improved exam grades after U-turn
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Around one-third of pupils at Grantown Grammar School are expected to get better exam results following a Scottish Government U-turn on SQA grades.
Staff at Grantown Grammar School have said they are delighted that pupils hard work will now be properly reflected.
Their final grades will now be the assessments made by teachers rather than the SQA after the political row over pupils in poorer areas having a greater proportion of results downgraded by the examination body than those in more affluent areas.
Headteacher Claire McGonigal said: "Although we were not affected by the postcode lottery, the size of the school meant that the SQA algorithm didn’t work as it should have done for our pupils.
"Our smaller class sizes in the senior phase can make patterns hard to spot and when reviewing results we quickly realised that mistakes had been made – 33 per cent of our pupils had their results downgraded.
"We pride ourselves on how well we know our pupils and I was confident that all of our pupils would have got upgrades as a result of appeals.
"We had all the evidence we needed to prove our estimates were right.
"I was devastated when I knew how disappointed pupils would be opening their results last Tuesday morning but now we are able to organise sending them the correct results which is a great feeling.
"Ironically, our smaller class sizes are the very thing which enable us all to know our pupils so well."
Ms McGonigal added: "Going forwards, this year we will continue on target setting, tracking and monitoring pupils progress to make sure that should this horrible situation ever happen again.
"We will be prepared with even more pupil evidence of their attainment."
The head teacher also said yesterday's return to class had gone smoothly.
Ms McGonigal said: "We had a great day.I’m so proud of how pupils and staff have responded to the one way system, hand sanitiser and other adaptations as a result of Covid-19.
"Despite everything, I think that it’s going to be an outstanding year and I think that results next year will be better than ever and we’ll have a lot of fun along the way too."
The SQA’s alternative certification model was put in place after exams were cancelled due to coronavirus.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney apologised on Tuesday afternoon to the 75,000 young people whose estimated mark was reduced by the SQA and said that the downgraded awards risked ‘young people, particularly from working class backgrounds may lose faith in education and form the view that no matter how hard you work, the system is against you'.
Candidates whose entries were adjusted up by the SQA will retain the higher grade
The SQA will inform schools of the revised results by next Friday (August 21) for schools to tell pupils.
New certificates will be issued in due course.
The SQA will provide new grades to UCAS and other college and university admissions bodies, and the Scottish Government will ensure enough places at colleges and universities so that all places awarded to young people can be taken up
Mr Swinney said in his apology: “These are exceptional times, and in exceptional times truly difficult decisions are made. In speaking directly to the young people affected by the downgrading of awards – the seventy-five thousand pupils whose teacher estimates were higher than their final award - I want to say this: I am sorry.
“I have listened and the message is clear. They don’t just want an apology, they want to see this fixed and that is exactly what I will now do. To resolve this issue all downgraded awards will be withdrawn. I am directing the SQA to re-issue those awards based solely on teacher or lecturer judgment.
“We now accept that the risk of undermining the value of qualifications is outweighed by a concern that young people, particularly from working class backgrounds, may lose faith in education and form the view that no matter how hard you work, the system is against you.
"Education is the route out of poverty for young people in deprived communities and we cannot risk allowing that view to take hold."