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Education / Support at hand for pupils with lower than expected grades

PUPILS who received results lower than expected this week will get support from their schools in appealing their grades, according to Shetland Islands Council’s director of children’s services Helen Budge.

Attainment in Shetland was up slightly when results were announced on Tuesday.

They were ‘exam-free’ due to coronavirus, with grades based off estimates from teachers.

Nationally much of the coverage, however, focused on how many pupils received lower grades than estimated.

Helen Budge.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) lowered around 125,000 estimated grades through a national moderation system, which was around a quarter of the total.

Scottish education secretary John Swinney denied claims that some pupils from more deprived areas were unfairly penalised by the exam system.

Budge said schools in Shetland would be looking to use the appeals procedure if any pupil felt their grades were unfair.

“Generally, our overall attainment is slightly up, certainly as good as it’s been in the past few years, but there will be anomalies, and that’s why the SQA have the appeals procedure in place,” she said.

“Where that is the case, I know that staff in schools will be working really hard and supporting the young folk to appeal those decisions that they feel did not match their estimated grades.

“I’m really aware that there are some young folk that are maybe slightly disappointed with their results, and where that is the case staff in schools will certainly be supporting them, where appropriate, to look at appeals for that.

“I think there’s many young folk that did really well, and I’m delighted for them too. But it must be very difficult for the young folk because they never got the chance to prove themselves in that final exam that would normally have.

“I’m sure some of them are feeling a bit disappointed that they didn’t have that opportunity to push that extra peerie bit to do the work to get the exam, and that must be really hard for some of them.”

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said earlier this week that the SQA’s communication has been a “trainwreck” and added that she hoped the appeals process will be “sufficiently robust” to handle the number of queries from pupils.

She said she has had a number of students contact her after receiving lower exam grades than predicted.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021