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Highland Council Welcomes Today's Announcement From The Cabinet Secretary For Education And Skills

2nd June 2021

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Shirley-Anne Somerville, announced today to the Scottish Parliament the details of the appeals system that will support this year's Alternative Model for Certification for young people studying for Scottish Qualification courses at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher level.

Young people will be empowered to indicate their intention to appeal from 25 June, based on certain criteria. Appeals will be possible where candidates believe that the provisional grade is an incorrect academic judgement, if there is an administrative error in the grade submitted or if they believe they are eligible for an appeal on the grounds of discrimination.

Cllr John Finlayson, Chair of Highland Council's Education Committee commented: "We welcome the announcement today from the Cabinet Secretary, which gives us details about an important part of this year's certification process. Our teaching staff, senior managers in schools and Highland Council officers have been working hard to make sure that this year's assessment of skills, knowledge and understanding is in line with the guidance issued by SQA, so that the grades submitted to SQA correctly reflect young people's learning. Today's announcement helps us to be sure that there is a fair appeals process for young people, and SQA will be writing to all candidates with more information about that process."

Nicky Grant, Interim Executive Chief Officer for Education and Learning said: "This has been a demanding term for young people and teachers alike, as they have put in a huge effort to deliver this year's qualifications. This has included extensive quality assurance activity, and we have had external support from Education Scotland and SQA to make sure our approaches are in line with national standards, while allowing a degree of local flexibility so that individual schools can plan in a way that meets the needs of their learners. It has been a difficult year for our Senior Phase pupils, and we would like to thank them, their families and their teachers for all of their hard work. The appeals process announced today puts in place an additional safeguard to make sure that young people receive the grades they deserve. From 17 June, schools will be sharing the provisional grades with young people, and certificates will be arriving from SQA on 10 August. Teachers will be talking to young people about their provisional grades between now and the end of term. They will explain how the assessment evidence was used to arrive at learners' provisional grades and how quality assurance checks have been used to ensure the grades are fair. If, after these conversations, young people believe that they are eligible for an appeal, schools will support them to ensure that they can submit their intention to appeal correctly."

Full details of the SQA's appeals process can be found on their website (external link). SQA have indicated that the result of an appeal could be a young person’s grade going up, remaining the same, or being moved downward, depending on the evidence of attainment.

Ms Grant added: "We know that there has been concern expressed about the security of the assessment papers in use across Scotland, with some being shared on social media. In all of our schools, teachers have stressed the importance of the confidentiality of assessment papers, and have made sure that these papers have been kept securely within the school. SQA asked schools to take action where there was evidence of malpractice. In all cases, teachers must be satisfied that each candidate's performance accurately reflects their skills, knowledge and understanding before arriving at a provisional grade."

 

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