SOME Renfrewshire schools may be unfairly disadvantaged in this year’s exam results, it is claimed. 

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer has raised concerns that pupils at schools such as Gleniffer High, in Paisley, could be negatively impacted by some of the methods used by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to determine their grades.

After Covid-19 forced the cancellation of exams, teachers were asked to submit estimated grades to SQA, which it will then moderate ahead of final results being revealed next Tuesday.

But Mr Greer, who represents Renfrewshire as part of his West Scotland remit, said he is worried about the SQA using schools’ historical results as part of its moderation criteria, with Gleniffer High having seen a major improvement in pupils’ attainment over the past few years.

Statistics show that, in 2016, a total of 32 per cent of students secured at least five Highers but, in 2019, that had risen to 42 per cent.

It is understood the exam board will not be informing school staff in advance if moderators have decided to alter any suggested grade.

Mr Greer has now demanded the exam board publishes the full details of its moderation methods ahead of results day.

“Gleniffer High School has worked really hard to improve the chances and opportunities for pupils but this hard work could now be seriously undermined by a secret SQA system which reduces the hard work of individual young people to a statistical average and postcode lottery,” he said.

“We just don’t know if the SQA will take account of the school’s recent success because of the veil of secrecy they’ve put over this process.

“The exams authority is undermining not only the professional judgement of teachers but the hard work of pupils.

“The SQA must publish the details of this grading system, so teachers can have confidence it is robust and know what to expect. This is particularly urgent now that we know the SQA will not be contacting teachers to let them know they have changed submitted grades.”

According to Mr Greer, the SQA has already refused to publish this information on two occasions, despite requests to do so by the Scottish Parliament’s education and skills committee.

But bosses insist they have provided clear information about their approach to this year’s grading system and have branded Mr Greer’s comments as “speculative and unhelpful.”

The board has said a free appeals service will be available to schools if staff are unhappy with their students’ results.

A SQA spokesman added: “This is an unprecedented year and we have worked hard with schools and colleges to ensure young people get the results they deserve.

"This analysis is speculative and unhelpful, particularly to young people who are awaiting their results.

“We have provided information about our approach but we have also been quite clear that we will publish our full methodology and Equalities Impact Assessment on results day – the day we would normally publish information about our awarding processes.

"We have said all along that fairness to learners, whilst maintaining the integrity and credibility of our qualifications system, is at the heart of our approach.

“It is important to highlight that, this year, a free appeals service will be available if schools and colleges do not think awarded grades reflect their learners’ performance.”

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