CONCERNS have been raised with Nicola Sturgeon over teachers preparing to re-open schools next week under difficult circumstances will be flooded with exam appeals to deal with amid the SQA moderation fiasco.

A row has emerged after the SQA marked more than 120,000 entries down after teacher assessments were deemed too lenient. But the methodology used for the moderation by the SQA, only published yesterday, has come under fire for impacting more harshly on pupils from more deprived backgrounds – with a school’s previous performance taken into account.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie, has called for talks with universities and colleges over “admissions criteria and deadlines” and has claimed that “thousands have been let down by the government just when they needed it most”.

READ MORE: SQA under fire after thousands of pupils' grades lowered based on schools' past performance

He has demanded the datasets used to mark down disadvantaged pupils to be published, while calling for the appeals process to be expanded.

Yesterday, Ms Sturgeon and Education Secretary John Swinney stressed that pupils who believe they have been treated unfairly can appeal their results - while the ability to sit exams to better their marks were ruled out.

Meanwhile, the president of Cosla, the orgnaisation that represents Scottish councils, has warned that the appeal solution is "very uneasy".

Alison Evison added that it is true pupils can appeal their results but warned over the "impact on mental health when many young people are already suffering".

Mr Evison has also pointed to the "additional workload for teachers already so busy with preparations for a very different return to school".

In a letter to Ms Sturgeon, Mr Rennie stressed that “there is little doubt” that pupils have been failed by the system to replace this year’s exams.

He added: “The disadvantage and inequality that has been growing over the last decade and more has been baked-in to the results this year.

“The large readjustments imposed by the SQA has placed a magnifying glass over the failure to close that performance gap between the most and least deprived. This has shackled well performing pupils in average schools by historical results over which they have had no control.”

READ MORE: Demands for SQA to explain moderation as downgraded pupils will not be able to resit exams

Mr Rennie said he “cannot fathom why there was no early transparency, scrutiny and discussion of the complex methodology” used by the SQA, that he claims “has led to this injustice on a such large scale”.

He added: “That this comes within weeks of the re-opening of universities and colleges and within days of the full-time restart of school only compounds the injustice and limits the opportunity to rectify. Because of the secrecy and delay time is now running out.

“The appeals process is likely to be overwhelmed and place considerable demands on teachers who have also been charged with health and safety of our pupils who return to school full time next week for the first time during this pandemic.

READ MORE: SNP MP Mhairi Black calls for Scottish Government to investigate SQA exam moderation

“The funding and the resource for the appeals process must be increased to meet the considerable demand. There must be immediate discussions with our universities and colleges about the admissions criteria and deadlines to ensure that pupils disadvantaged do not lose out on sought after places whilst they await their appeal conclusion.

“Thousands have been let down by the government just when they needed it most. It is now your responsibility to correct this and everyone – especially pupils, parents and carers – will be watching.”