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Hundreds attend pupil-led protest against the Scottish Qualifications Authority results fiasco

HUNDREDS of students gathered in Glasgow and Edinburgh today for a pupil-led protest against the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) results fiasco.

Students received worse results than they were expecting on Tuesday after the SQA downgraded results based on teachers’ predictions and mock exams. 

Poorer pupils were disproportionately affected, with the pass rate of those from the most deprived areas lowered by 15.2 per cent compared with 6.9 per cent of those from the most affluent backgrounds.

More than 35,000 people have signed an online petition calling for  re-evaluation of the results, which it says were based on “a classist marking scheme.”

Scottish Labour education spokesperson Iain Gray said “That pupils from more deprived areas have been penalised is a national outrage and those responsible must be held to account.”

Youth Communist League Glasgow member Emily Vaughan said: “The SQA methodology for grading students during this pandemic only exacerbates the existing attainment gap in Scottish education and unfairly penalises poorer students due to circumstances beyond their control. 

“As a result, a significant number of young people came out to protest this and demand that the SQA re-evaluate their decisions. 

“The demonstration was attended by speakers from a number of different organisations but was unfortunately prevented from taking on a truly class-conscious atmosphere due to its decidedly apolitical organisers and the presence of Scottish Conservative Party representatives leading to some animosity.”

Mr Swinney has denied that bright pupils from deprived areas were unfairly penalised.

But following the protest, Scottish Labour said it would table a motion of no confidence for the removal of Mr Swinney after it revealed that the SQA was not planning on publishing appeal results until the end of May 2021.

Mr Gray said the now-removed timeline on the board’s website “blows the lid off” the SQA and SNP’s defence that students could appeal unfair grades.

He said: “It is only two days since John Swinney told pupils who had been downgraded that the answer was the appeals process.

“Now we can see that’s going to be another kick in the teeth for these young people. We cannot have confidence in John Swinney and the SQA to run a credible appeals system.

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