Scottish independent schools appeal three times as many exam results

Labour is demanding fees for exam appeals be scrapped after "worrying" figures showed independent schools challenging almost three times as many results, compared to their state-run counterparts.

Monday, 11th November 2019, 4:55 pm
Students pictured sitting mock exams
Students pictured sitting mock exams

Last year independent schools appealed 7 per cent of exam results, figures revealed under Freedom of Information showed, while local authority schools appealed just 2.4 per cent of results.

In 2013, the year before the charges for exam appeals were introduced, local authority-run schools had a much higher appeal rate, challenging 6.5 per cent of all results, more than the 5.7 per cent of grades that were appealed by independent schools that year.

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A high school student gets ready to sit an exam

Labour said the system, where a fee is applied in cases where a review is lodged, but no change is made to the grade awarded, acts as a disincentive for councils to submit appeals.

Education spokesman Iain Gray said the figures showed students from state schools "are at a further disadvantage when it comes to their opportunities for success compared with those educated privately".

The statistics were revealed days after a report found Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) has had a "significant negative impact" on children's attainment.

The study, by Professor Jim Scott from Dundee University, claimed if the full extent of CfE was known in 2006, it would have been delayed or even cancelled.

Mr Gray said: "In a week where the SNP have faced yet another damning appraisal of their record on education, these figures are worrying.

"Jim Scott revealed just a few days ago that the Scottish Government's implementation of Curriculum for Excellence has negatively impacted the attainment of many of Scotland's young people.

"Now it has been revealed that those from state schools are at a further disadvantage when it comes to their opportunities for success compared with those educated privately.

"This gulf simply exacerbates the attainment gap that continues to plague Scottish education at every level.

"The SNP Government must ensure the Scottish Qualifications Authority scrap exam appeals charges. This would go some way to levelling the playing field for all children to fulfil their potential academically."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: "Guidance issued to all local authorities stipulates that no young person should be disadvantaged or denied access to the SQA post results service because of cost.

"Whether the pupil is from a state or independent school, a review can only be requested if teachers have a legitimate query about a candidate's results. The SQA does not charge for any reviews that result in an exam grade being changed.

"Improving the education and life chances of all our children and young people - irrespective of their background - is one of our defining missions.

"That's why we are investing £750 million during this Parliament to ensure every child has an equal chance to succeed.

"The gap between the most and least deprived communities for school leavers entering work, training or further study is half what it was in 2009/10, while a record number of students from the most disadvantaged areas gained a place at university last year."