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Shirley-Anne Somerville to unveil school exams appeals process next week

Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP
Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP

New Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville is expected to give a statement next week on the long-awaited appeals process for school qualifications.

The SNP MSP, who was recently promoted to the role in Nicola Sturgeon’s Cabinet reshuffle, has pledged to deliver a “robust” system, following last year’s exams crisis.

Although the exams diet was cancelled this year, pupils and teachers have warned there has been an intense period of exam-like assessments since schools reopened so teachers can provide evidence to back up their grade estimates.

The vast majority of pupils’ estimated grades have to be submitted by June 25 – just four weeks away.

However, no details been given on the appeals process this year, despite promises from the SQA to set out the new system by early May.

In response to an urgent question from Scottish Labour education spokesman Michael Marra, the Cabinet Secretary said the government needs to “ensure that people have faith in this process”.

Mr Marra also urged the education secretary to reflect on the “conduct of the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) over the last year”.

New MSP Michael Marra
Scottish Labour’s newly elected Michael Marra arrives for registration at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh.

He said the “latest delays show a level of contempt practically for parents, pupils and teachers across Scotland who are having to deal with the situation.”

Mr Marra added that he was “really glad there was a change in tone” from the new cabinet secretary and that she is “not digging in as we’ve heard recently, that these assessments are not exams”.

In response, Ms Somerville said the last year had “undoubtedly been a difficult year for young people and for the teachers supporting them through this”.

She added that the system this year “will be robust” and one which “young people can have faith in”.

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