First News


Stu­dent com­plains about art grade be­fore exam board is told to is­sue new re­sults

- by edi­tor in chief Nicky Cox Education · Aberdeenshire · Twitter · Scotland · England · Northern Ireland · Ireland · John Swinney

THE draw­ings of a young artist went vi­ral af­ter he “thanked” his exam board for a lower than ex­pected mark in art and de­sign.

Sean Robert­son from Aberdeen posted a mes­sage on Twit­ter to the Scot­tish Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Author­ity (SQA), in­clud­ing some of his draw­ings (right). He was un­happy with the grade and wrote a sar­cas­tic mes­sage: “Cheers for the C in art”.

Sean’s dis­ap­point­ment was at the start of a grow­ing protest that led to the SQA be­ing told on Tues­day to is­sue new grades.

The exam board first sent grades to more than 130,000 teenagers last week. It was a re­sults day with a dif­fer­ence be­cause the ex­ams had been can­celled be­cause of the coro­n­avirus. Marks were based on mock ex­ams, course­work and what teach­ers thought was the right grade. But the SQA changed around 125,000 grades es­ti­mated by teach­ers, af­ter look­ing at how schools had per­formed in ear­lier years.

It turned out this meant that pupils in the poor­est ar­eas of Scot­land had their grades marked down by more than twice that of stu­dents liv­ing in the wealth­i­est parts of the coun­try.

Sean told First News: “I un­der­stand mark­ing ex­ams that didn’t hap­pen must be hard but that’s why our teach­ers gave them pre­dicted grades, hence why every­one’s so con­fused about why they de­cided to play around with it them­selves.”

Sean and other stu­dents were lis­tened to by John Swin­ney, Scot­land’s Deputy First Min­is­ter and Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary. He said sorry and that he un­der­stood why it had “left a feel­ing of un­fair­ness in the minds of young peo­ple”.

He con­firmed that all down­graded awards would be with­drawn and that he had told the SQA to is­sue new grades based only on teacher es­ti­mates.

Sean, 18, was given the “C” in his art Higher, a Scot­tish exam equiv­a­lent to A lev­els. As First News went to press, he was wait­ing to hear what his new grade would be.

Mean­while, in Eng­land, Wales and North­ern Ire­land, hun­dreds of thou­sands of stu­dents were ex­pect­ing their A level and BTEC re­sults yes­ter­day (Thurs­day). And, next Thurs­day (20 Au­gust), the GCSE marks are due to be an­nounced. As there were no ex­ams, the grades are be­ing de­cided in much the same way as in Scot­land.

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