Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP Government has been savaged for its handling of Scotland’s exam results after the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) downgraded 124,564 results for exams which were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pass rates for pupils in the most deprived data zones were reduced by 15.2 percent in comparison with 6.9 percent for pupils from the most affluent backgrounds. The First Minister has since apologised for the issue.
She said Education Secretary John Swinney will set out a plan to rectify the matter at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.
But political commentator Kevin Maguire hit out at Ms Sturgeon over the issue.
Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, he said: “Nicola Sturgeon said raising education standards was going to be one of her big issues but it came back to haunt her.
“Kids were protesting on streets, she initially resisted pressure for an inquiry.
“There’s moves for a vote of no confidence on the education minister and the SNP Government and now she’s finally given in.
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“The real scandal isn’t that grades were being predicted using an algorithm, we understand that with the coronavirus however regretful that was.
“But it was the kids in poorer areas were marked down in their predicted grades far more than those from more comfortable, wealthier areas.
“There’s got to be something wrong with the system they have used when that has happened.
“It’s occurred in Scotland, will it be repeated in England, Wales and Northern Ireland when the results come out?”
It comes as Mr Swinney has faced calls to resign from opposition parties, with Scottish Labour set to mount a no-confidence vote against him in Holyrood and the Conservatives saying they will support it.
The First Minister reiterated her support for her deputy at Monday’s daily TV briefing.
She said: “When we get things wrong, I want to be able to stand here and acknowledge that and put it right because I think fundamentally that’s better than simply digging our heels in and trying to defend a position we think in our hearts we didn’t get right.
“That’s the approach I will take, it’s the approach the Deputy First Minister is going to take and I hope that’s the one that young people affected and their families will see as the right approach to take.”
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The First Minister also said she is “not prepared” to have young people feel that “no matter how hard they work at school, no matter how seriously they take education, the system is stacked against them”.
While the SQA developed the methodology, the First Minister “absolved” the qualifications authority of responsibility because it was done at the behest of Scottish ministers.
She said: “Ministers asked the SQA to apply an approach that delivered a set of results that are comparable in terms of quality to last year’s.
“This is a view that ministers are taking now that it didn’t take enough account of the individual circumstances.”