When is the Scottish exams appeals announcement and what will the new education secretary tell pupils and parents?

Shirley-Anne Somerville has been in post for two weeks and today will make her first ministerial announcement, which is expected to reveal the appeals system that will be in place for this year’s senior pupils sitting assessments.

By Gina Davidson
Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 12:38 pm

The new education secretary has been under increasing pressure over the Alternative Certification Model (ACM) that was brought in after formal exams were scrapped as a result of Covid lockdowns.

She will make her statement today at 2pm in the Scottish Parliament. It is understood she will finally reveal what the appeals system will be for those pupils unhappy with the grades they receive for National 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers.

Despite the ACM being devised by a new National Qualifications group in the wake of last year’s exams debacle, pupils, teachers and parents have said the assessments to provide written evidence on which to base grades, are just “exams by another name”, but without the study leave, prelims – and an appeals process.

New education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville is expected to announce the exam appeals systems.

Individual schools have also conducted the assessments in many different ways.

As a result there have been calls for the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and Education Scotland to be scrapped, or at the least radically reformed.

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While grades awarded by teachers will be given to pupils before the end of term in just over three weeks' time, they will remain provisional until issued by the SQA on August 10.

There have been reassurances they will not be changed because of an algorithm, as they were last year, or by external marking.

However, pupils have been keen to learn how they can appeal against a grade they feel is incorrect or unfair.

While the plan for appeals was promised by early May at the latest the SQA failed to meet that deadline, Ms Somerville told MSPs last week the focus of schools and colleges had been on ensuring that all learners got the right and fair result first time.

"Nonetheless, I appreciate that every approach must allow for appeals and we must ensure that we get this right and deliver a fair and credible process for that too," she said.

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