By Bill Heaney
A timeline published on the SQA’s intranet shows that in spite of grade appeal applications closing in just two weeks’ time, the SQA will not release the results until May 2021 apart from in “priority” cases.
The timeline now appears to have been removed from the SQA intranet.
“Priority” review outcomes for candidates awaiting university places will be concluded by September 4 this year – but the lengthy delay for all other appeals could compromise those applying for university next year, those going to college and those applying for jobs.
With a quarter of the exam estimates submitted by teachers changed by SQA officials across Scotland, the tsunami of appeals likely could overwhelm secondary school teachers on top of a return to school in unprecedented circumstances.
Jackie Baillie MSP believes that the SNP could fix this now by reverting to teacher estimates for this year’s results. This would trust the teachers to exercise their professional judgement.
And it would not disadvantage working class pupils from deprived areas, who were twice as likely to have results downgraded compared to those in more affluent areas.
Scottish Labour will table a motion of no confidence and seek support from other parties in the Scottish Parliament for the removal of Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney.
The beleaguered Education Secretary, John Swinney, will this week deliver two statements to the Scottish Parliament on the SQA fiasco and return to schools.
He must clearly show that the impact of both will not put any additional pressure onto teachers as trust in the SNP government erodes further each day.
Jackie Baillie MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh said: “Since the shambles of the SQA results emerged on Tuesday last week, the SQA and SNP ministers have deflected criticism by arguing that students could appeal unfair grades.
“This astonishing leak blows the lid off their defence. The SQA created this mess and the SNP government has left them to sort it out – but all we have seen is shambles, upon shambles.
“To throw the life chances of young people in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll & Bute into doubt is a disgrace, but to then make them wait over nine months for justice is a total insult.
“It is simply astonishing that the SQA and the Deputy First Minister thought they could get away with this. The removal of the timeline simply points to the chaos at the heart of the SQA.
“At the weekend we have seen pupils and parents protesting against John Swinney’s disastrous stewardship of this year’s results process.
“We have also seen the First Minister say that she would protest if this had been done to her as a pupil.
“This may have been intended to sound sympathetic, but to say it and then defend the Education Secretary and the SQA is hypocrisy, particularly as she is in a position to do something about it.
“The return to schools in these exceptional times will already be stressful for teachers across the country.
“Add to that the tsunami of appeals that secondary teachers will have to process, and there is a risk that the pressure will become overwhelming.
“We must trust the teachers, they know pupils best and they worked hard to provide estimated grades based on their individual knowledge of students.
“No algorithm can replicate that knowledge and so their estimates should be restored and those results given to pupils.
“It’s a national outrage that pupils from more deprived areas have been penalised.
“Like the pupils and parents who protested at the weekend, I am clear that those responsible for this fiasco must be held to account.
“It is clear that John Swinney has completely lost control of the SQA and the exam process, and he needs to go.
“My party will lay a motion to that effect in parliament and I call on all MSPs to back it.
“This is a time when Scotland’s students need to know their politicians are putting their needs and future above everything else.”