'John Swinney should resign', says letter from deprived Edinburgh school's parents forum

The First Minister refused to say when the Scottish Government or the SQA would take responsibility for the fallout of the exam results fiasco.
Calls for John Swinney's resignation have come after a letter branded the exam results a "shambles"Calls for John Swinney's resignation have come after a letter branded the exam results a "shambles"
Calls for John Swinney's resignation have come after a letter branded the exam results a "shambles"

The chair of a group of parents from a school in one of the most deprived parts of Edinburgh has called on the education secretary to resign due to his handling of the exam results fiasco.

Penning a letter to MSPs and MPs asking for help with their school’s situation, the parents forum chair, who wished to remain anonymous, told elected representatives that John Swinney had thrown students “under the bus”.

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Labelling the situation a “complete and unmitigated disaster”, the representative said the Scottish Government had forced the “continued shackling to poverty of our young people”.

Nicola Sturgeon, responding directly to the letter at her daily briefing, said that if appeals saw more grades going up, it showed that the system had worked.

This was despite statements earlier in the week where the First Minister claimed the moderation process undertaken by the SQA was the only was to maintain standards year-on-year and give the results “credibility”.

The letter states: “The Scottish Government when campaigning for election sought to level the playing field, stamp out poverty, bridge the attainment gap and provide equal opportunity for all. At the one moment the pupils they represent needed them to step up to the plate and deliver, they throw them under the bus.

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“The Scottish Government are hiding behind an algorithm which generated more passes than previous years allowing them to take up the mantle and crow they are reducing the attainment gap. But in reality many of Scotland’s talented but poorer pupils have been disadvantaged.

"These pupils have been told throughout their lives by the likes of the Scottish Government, if you work hard you can pull yourself out of poverty, you can do well and be a high achiever.

"To then tell them their grades need to reflect the past years’ performance of their school and they have no right or chance to better themselves, is ludicrous.”

The letter turns on Mr Swinney, calling directly for his resignation and asking him to take “full responsibility” for the “shambles”.

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It continues: “The Education Secretary at the start of this situation made a f irm commitment insisting that no pupil would be disadvantaged. He has ultimately not kept his end of the bargain and has presided over a disaster.

"The Education Secretary should take full responsibility for this shambles, responsibility for the continued shackling to poverty of our young people, responsibility for unprecedented anxiety and upset - and resign.”

In response from a question by The Scotsman at her daily briefing, the First Minister said if the appeals process saw grade reductions being reversed, it was an indication the system was working.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Now, if we were at a point right now where we were saying the process is over then I think the concerns would be more legitimate because we would be saying like it or lump it, that is the end of the road.

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"But because of the difficulties of this process, we have made sure this year that there is a free appeals process for anybody whose teacher wants to put forward evidence for them, to make sure everybody’s individual circumstances are looked at properly. That is just as important a part of the process we have just gone through.

"If we get the situation where lots of appeals are awarded, then it will show that process has worked as intended. So let’s wait until we get to the end of that process and see what the situation is there.

"There will be questions asked, debates to be had, there will be a reflection the government and the SQA want to make about the method used in the last part of the process, I am not suggesting otherwise.

"Don’t just cast aside the next part of the process because this is the part of the process that we always intended will be about ensuring the individual injustices could identified and rectified.”

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