School pupils gathered at George Square today as they demanded the Scottish Government to take urgent action over this year's degraded Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) exam results.

The newly adopted marking approach used during the coronavirus crisis while all exams were cancelled meant that over 124,000 grade recommendations from teachers were rejected. 


READ MORE: SQA results: 'Devastated' student writes to John Swinney

The "moderation" system during the coronavirus outbreak used estimates made by teachers based on pupil's performance over the school year. 

Pupils have since dubbed this system as "classist" and a "post-code lottery" as many have said they have suffered because they are from less affluent areas. 

The organiser of today's protest, Erin Bleakley told the Glasgow Times: "We are campaigning for a case of our voices being heard. We're being marked down unfairly because we live in what is described as lower-class areas. 

"It's not fair on us as pupils and it isn't fair on the teachers at all either. They've been asked to make a judgement and then they're being downgraded from that judgement."

The Carntyne St Andrew's Secondary School pupil was distraught on Tuesday after learning her results were degraded.

She now says this will affect her and other fellow pupils' opportunities as they leave school.

The 17-year-old added: "We're being downgraded based on where we live, it isn't fair that people from affluent areas can do quite bad in their prelims and come out with all A's.

"I think the teachers are just as disappointed as us. At the end of the day, the teachers were asked to make a judgement on us pupils and our work. It is a complete insult to them as professionals.

"I was devastated when I got my exam results through. I had been marked down for an A in Geography but I got a B.

"I had been expecting to get a B in Biology and I got a C. I was expecting a C in Chemistry and I got a D. It was just heartbreaking, I couldn't contain myself on Tuesday.

READ MORE: SQA Protest: Hundreds of students to protest in George Square


"The thing is, people can go into exams as an A candidate and come out with a C. That means this year, people who were A candidates and didn't get to sit the exam should have been A candidates but they weren't and it is based on an exam that didn't even go ahead. It was non-existent. It didn't happen.

"The grades should have been based on our school work, our progress and things that we have done that we have worked hard on. It should have been based on how hard we have worked throughout the year but it has gone down the drain now.

"This system has let us down and could potentially be life-changing for a lot of us."

Local MSP Patrick Harvie earlier warned that 27 schools across Glasgow could have been marked unfairly in this year's SQA grading system.

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie today branded the "modified" grading system used by the SQA as "grossly unfair".

He said: “Pupils who have worked hard for months have been marked down because of how previous students performed at their school. This is grossly unfair as it reinforces the inequity that has been growing for years. 

“The Education Secretary and the SQA were warned for months that their moderation process would damage the prospects of pupils for life. It’s no surprise that so many young people are out protesting. They feel as if their grades and their futures are being robbed by the SNP. 

“We can only hope that the appeals system is robust enough to deal with the tsunami of appeals heading its away. The funding and the resource for the appeals process must be increased to meet the considerable demand and the Scottish Government must ensure teachers have the time they need to fully support the many appeals that will be required."


The Scottish Government is urging disheartened pupils to appeal their results if they feel unhappy with the way they were marked.

A spokesman said: “Scotland’s exams have never previously been cancelled, so the SQA had no alternative but to put in place an alternative certification model this year. Moderation is an annual process and ensures the integrity of awards and fairness to learners.

“Teachers and lecturers applied their professional judgements and three out of every four grade estimates were not adjusted by the SQA.

“The SQA results show a narrowing of the gap between the most and least disadvantaged young people attaining grades A-C compared to last year, and to a level below the average for the last four years.

“We know some young people feel they have been graded unfairly and we would encourage anyone in that position to talk to their schools about the free appeals process. The SQA moderation was only one part of the process – the appeals will be based solely on each student’s individual circumstances.

“Deputy First Minister John Swinney will make a statement to Parliament next week.”