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Ross-shire parents, teachers and pupils welcome SQA exam results U-turn

By Hector MacKenzie

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Karen Cormack: Pupils are getting grades they deserve.
Karen Cormack: Pupils are getting grades they deserve.

A DRAMATIC U-turn over downgraded exam results given to hundreds of pupils across Ross-shire has been welcomed.

Many were devastated when the Scottish Qualifications Authority downgraded assessments made by teachers after exams were scrapped because of coronavirus.

Schools across the county this week updated pupils on the latest situation which comes after five months of lockdown and an unprecedented period of learning from home.

Education secretary John Swinney apologised for the upset caused and announced downgraded results would be reinstated to teacher estimates.

The head teacher at Ross-shire largest secondary, Dingwall Academy, welcomed the change of heart.

Karen Cormack said: “We welcome the Scottish Government decision to award pupils the results estimated by their teachers.

"I am very aware of the time and commitment teachers put into this process and can say with confidence that our pupils are now receiving the awards they deserve.Results day felt very strange this year as we were acutely aware of the disappointment felt by some pupils. We can now celebrate all our pupil achievements and focus on the year ahead.”

Dingwall and Seaforth ward councillor Graham Mackenzie, himself a former rector of the secondary school, said: "It seems that the moderation process was not fit for purpose and it is disappointing that this was not anticipated.

"In the circumstances I believe that Scottish Government has made the correct call to take the stressesand anxieties away from our young people. Students should always be confident that the system will give them accurate rewards for their efforts. The challenge now is to review what has happened and to make improvements."

Black Isle parent Verity Walker Eley, who was bemused and furious to see her daughter's psychology grade drastically downgraded from a possible A to a D was delighted with the about-turn.

She said: "Our whole family is very relieved by the U-turn on this year’s SQA results and I am sure the teachers are too. I think this is a situation which could so easily have been avoided simply by agreeing that 2020 has been a grim year for any pupils struggling through exams, and that for this year only, the teachers were in a much better place to assess who had done best in a difficult situation than SQA.

"For once it was a situation which benefited the quieter kids, the triers and the plodders, not the bright stars who will always shine in exams at whatever they do, even if with minimum effort to get there. Then SQA tried to undo that slender advantage with disastrous consequences. There was clearly a political will to try to ensure the 2020 qualifications remained comparable to those of previous years but they were never going to be that anyway!

"It is refreshing to see those in power in Scotland holding up their hands to say ‘we got it wrong’ – and it will be interesting to see how those south of the border wriggle out of doing it too'."

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