Shirley Anne Somerville has been criticised by Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie and Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart.
By Bill Heaney
Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, has said that the Education Secretary’s statement failed to answer key questions and leaves pupils, parents and teachers in the dark.
Jackie has been contacted by a number of pupils and their distress and anger is felt by thousands of pupils and parents across the country.
She said that serious questions around the appeals process and the support available for pupils must be answered or the potential for inequality could be ingrained in the new system.
The Somerville statement was published in full by The Democrat earlier today.
Jackie Baillie said that Shirley-Anne Somerville’s statement failed to outline the practical operation of the appeals process and instead the government has pushed the deadline for schools to be informed further down the line.
Jackie Baillie MSP said: “The Cabinet Secretary has failed to produce a credible and coherent appeals process.
“Eight months, six promises and two deadlines later, pupils, parents and teachers are still in the dark on key questions. I have spoken to so many parents and teachers who have serious worries about the future prospects of their hardworking children and pupils.
“At the centre of this are individual pupils left on their own to decide whether to contest the grades given to them. To do so would be to question their school, the SQA and the government that set the process. They would risk being downgraded if they speak up.
“No allowance will be given for personal circumstances faced by pupils. We know that the most disadvantaged young people have been worst affected. They are also those most likely to require the support of their school rather than disputing the school’s conclusions. Our community has a number of disadvantaged children who cannot be let down and forgotten about.
“No new evidence will be allowed. Essentially centres will be reviewing the same set of assessments. If young people feel that their ability is not reflected in these grades they have no recourse whatsoever.
“It is astonishing that we find ourselves here. There is little comfort for pupils, parents and teachers in this process.”
Meanwhile, responding to the latest statement on exams, Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP commented:
“There is stress, uncertainty, and assessment after assessment with no study leave. Pupils have told me they’ve got 16 assessments this week and it’s a nightmare for teachers too.
“Liberal Democrats have called for the reform of the SQA for years. There are no excuses left.
“The Education Secretary says this is a naturally stressful time. But the mismanagement of this year’s exams has increased stress levels, and pupils need extra support to help with that extra anxiety.”