Orkney Islands Council has welcomed a 'significant u-turn' following today’s announcement by the Scottish Education Secretary John Swinney that all downgraded exam awards will be withdrawn.
This now means that teacher estimates will be reinstated and there will be no need for any appeals process.
OIC Executive Director of Education, Leisure and Housing James Wylie welcomed the announcement: “The significant and detailed work carried out by teaching staff and school managers was to an incredibly high standard and I had every confidence in the approach and final outcome presented to the SQA. I am delighted that this effort across the country has now been recognised by John Swinney during his Parliamentary address today.”
With no exams in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the SQA applied a methodology whereby grades were estimated by teachers – however were reduced or increased based on criteria including the historic performance of the school.
Mr Swinney conceded that they had got it wrong and said an independent review would take place to look at where lessons could be learned on how to form future actions.
In Orkney, the downgrading of awards totalled 436.
The total number of exam entries at Kirkwall Grammar School was 1,237 across National 5s, Highers and Advance Highers. Out of those, 290 were downgraded by the SQA.
At Stromness Academy there was a total of 529 entries and a reduction of 146 across Nat5s, Highers and Advanced Highers.
In total, around 60 estimates were raised by the SQA at both schools.
With the small numbers at Junior High Schools there were very few changes made by the SQA up or down on teacher estimates.
Head Teacher at Stromness Academy, Jane Partridge, said: “Staff worked hard to produce and quality-assure well-considered estimates, but SQA moderation reduced a substantial proportion of these. Stromness Academy Senior Management Team has confidence in our teachers’ judgements and QA process and was looking forward to excellent results this year.”
Head Teacher at Kirkwall Grammar School, Don Hawkins, echoed the sentiments, adding that “he and the Senior Leadership Team had every confidence in their teachers’ judgements and the robust quality assurance system at school and local authority level”.
He added: “The staff have gone above and beyond to ensure a considered and moderated set of results.”