SQA results: petition launched to re-evaluate 'classist marking scheme' gains more than 12,500 votes in seven hours

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‘The SQA has created a class divide by basing results off of a school’s past exam performance and its post code.’

An Edinburgh schoolgirl’s petition launched to change an “incredibly classist and insulting” exam moderation process has gained tens of thousands of signatures in just hours.

Sarah McLauchlan, a Holy Rood High School pupil, has published a document online urging the Scottish Government to reassess its recent approach to marking young people’s grades amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Pupils across the country have not been able to sit their exams due to Covid-19, therefore grades have been based on teacher estimates. Yet, controversially, the previous performance of the school in exams has also been taken into account and grades provided by teacher judgement were subject to moderation depending on overall marks achieved at the school in previous years.

Petition launched to change 'classist' marking scheme in ScotlandPetition launched to change 'classist' marking scheme in Scotland
Petition launched to change 'classist' marking scheme in Scotland
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More than a quarter of pupils across the country had their grade changed from teacher estimates by the SQA leading to heavy criticism from politicians and education specialists.

“It’s incredibly classist and insulting,” Sarah said.

“The SQA has created a class divide by basing results off of a school’s past exam performance (not the this years students) and its post code.

"This means thousands of teenagers who may have excelled in their prelims or received steady grades all year have had their results deflated - purely because they live in a more deprived area or their school isn’t as privileged as others.”

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In a statement on the petition, Sarah said results should be based on the pupil’s personal performance and input from their teachers, who will know how to predict their marks best.

"The SQA should have used prelims as they were done in exam conditions, tests done throughout the year, previous exam results and performance and teacher input,” Sarah added.

"Teachers have known their students all year, so are the most qualified to predict results - not strangers in an office.

"Every child is different, so assuming just because they are from a deprived area they won’t do as well and children from privileged areas will excel is biased and unfair.

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"It is completely unacceptable and wrong, especially when class should not be a basis for results which impact the rest of a child’s life.”

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