Anger at SQA after ‘dozens’ of Levenmouth Academy pupils have exam results downgraded

Councillors and parents have slammed the SQA after dejected Levenmouth Academy pupils found out their exam results had been downgraded.
Levenmouth Academy.Levenmouth Academy.
Levenmouth Academy.

The Scottish government and the SQA have come under fire for downgrading around 125,000 estimated grades across Scotland – with those in the most deprived areas appearing to be the hardest hit.

Councillor Ryan Smart said ‘dozens’ of parents had contacted him complaining that their children had been given a lower grade than what teachers estimated for them.

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“The government should hang its head in shame,” he said. “Kids in areas like ours will be disproportionately affected.”

When moderating teachers’ estimates, the SQA looked at each school’s history of estimating results and attainment, and developed a maximum and minimum pass rate for each course at every school.

Cllr Smart described the system as “unfair”, adding: “Levenmouth Academy is a new school and shouldn’t be based on past performance. It’s been getting better and better every year.”

Cllr Colin Davidson, a former teacher and EIS president, described the news as “very disappointing”.

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“The SQA is long overdue for an overhaul,” he said. “The whole organisation needs to be looked at closely.

“These kids have faced hard challenges to achieve what they’ve achieved. I feel the SQA has let the Levenmouth Academy staff and pupils down.”

17-year-old Morgan-Leigh Ritchie was one of the pupils whose results were downgraded. It had been estimated she would be a B and two high Cs – instead she got a B and two Ds.

“She’s taken it hard and she’s upset,” said her mum, Nicola.

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“She worked so hard, and this is a huge kick in the teeth. Kids without silver spoons can do well as well.”

Morgan-Leigh has already secured a place at Fife College, but Nicola said she was “crushed”.

Ronnie Ross, rector at Levenmouth Academy, said: “While it is early doors and we are still looking at all the results for the individual candidates at this time, I understand that there will be individual candidates who will have worries around their results.

“Further information and data will be available in the very near future. We know that this year was very different in terms of how young people were awarded their results by the SQA.

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“This was based on estimates submitted by the school following rigorous moderation and quality assurance procedures based on candidate performance throughout the session to March 2019.

“We will be working with our principal teachers next week to look at the estimates submitted and the grades awarded. In accordance with SQA procedures, where we have the evidence to appeal on behalf of the candidates I can assure you we will be doing this as a matter of priority.

“I have always said that when we look at results we must always bear in mind the individual candidates behind these statistics.”