Monday, January 14, 2008

School exam cheats

Soicialist Courier has previously drawn attention to the inequities of the education system that provided for the more privileged sections rather than the poorer students . We now discover that built into the school examination system was a system of appeals procedure against low grades that favoured those who attended larger independents and comprehensives in wealthy suburbs, as opposed to those in deprived or sparsely populated areas.

Thousands of pupils from leading state and independent schools across Scotland were apparently given artificially inflated exam qualifications through a controversial computerised appeal system. Under the scheme, which was scrapped last year, Standard Grade and Higher exam results at certain schools were automatically upgraded without being separately checked by officials at the Scottish Qualifications Authority. New SQA figures reveal that in 2007, when these exam appeals were manually checked for the first time in 15 years, a large proportion were rejected demonstrating that a sizeable number of previous upgrades were questionable. Schools with small class sizes or those where only a handful of pupils were predicted A passes were not eligible. Therefore, bright pupils who just fail to meet their predicted grades from these schools would not be automatically uplifted. Five out of the 10 schools with the most derived grades were private, with George Watson's College in Edinburgh topping the list and Hutchesons' Grammar in Glasgow coming second. Two comprehensive schools from East Renfrewshire, Williamwood High School in Clarkston and St Ninian's in Giffnock, also had a high number of derived grades.

Christina McKelvie, SNP MSP and a member of the Scottish Parliament's education committee, said: "This change in the appeal rate shows the SNP was right to demand the end of the derived grades system which was seen to clearly favour pupils in better-off areas or in private education..."

John Milligan, a science teacher from Sutherland who was responsible for starting a campaign to end derived grades, said the figures vindicated his position. "It was was already hard enough for pupils from poorer areas to overcome hurdles in their path and this system supported that..."

No comments: