School pupils are planning to stage a protest over their exam results in George Square.
Erin Bleakley, 17, has organised the event on Friday, and she said she hopes it will highlight how pupils living in areas of high deprivation were disproportionately impacted by marks being downgraded.
The pass rate of pupils in the most deprived data zones was reduced by 15.2% from teacher estimates after the exam board’s moderation.
In contrast, the pass rate for pupils from the most affluent backgrounds dropped by 6.9%.
Miss Bleakley said: “We deserve the same life chances as young people in affluent areas. How can anyone expect to close the attainment gap when your hard work can be wiped out based on your postcode?
“There needs to be recognition that living somewhere that is termed an area of deprivation should not be something that prevents young people from progressing to further or higher education.”
The teenager attends St Andrew’s high school in Carntyne, Glasgow, which earlier this year was identified as being the second most deprived area in the country, according to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.
Miss Bleakley said she was already feeling nervous before her grades came out, and more so when she heard about the moderation system brought in when exams were cancelled due to coronavirus.
She said: “I did not think it was fair that we were being marked down on how past pupils had performed as we are all individuals.
“The difference for myself and some others is that we were on a two-year higher pathway meaning we would obtain six Highers by the end of S5 instead of the usual five.
“But with many marks being downgraded it means this is not the case for a lot of young people, all the work we have put in for the last two years has been undermined.
“Requesting teachers to use their professional judgment based on a combination of previous work, prelims and other test results along with their knowledge of each particular student should have been robust enough assessment.
“To sweepingly override them undermines both the work put in by the pupils and the trust in teachers as professionals.”
Miss Bleakley said she has little faith in the appeals system, believing it will not involve individual work being considered.She also believes universities should wait until the appeals process is complete before rejecting students, forcing them to go through the clearing process.
She said: “Yes, this is an unprecedented situation but colleges and universities have a responsibility to ensure fair access to further and higher education.
“It is widely recognised that young people in areas of deprivation already have to work harder than most and in a situation such as a pandemic it is hugely unfair to penalise them especially before the appeals.”
The protest, originally set to take place outside the SQA offices, is now planned for George Square between 6.30am and 12.30pm.
An SQA spokesman said: “This year’s results will be cause for celebration for many people but disappointment for others. While this is a strong set of results overall – up on 2019 – this year is no different.
“We would advise young people who feel they haven’t got the grades they hoped for to speak to their school or college first.
“Our appeals process this year will be based solely on the evidence presented by the school or college, for that individual candidate, on a case-by-case basis.
“The most disadvantaged young people have achieved better results in 2020 compared to both 2019 and the average results for the last four years.
“At grades A to C, the attainment gap between the most and least disadvantaged young people is also narrower this year for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher than for last year or the average gap for the last four years.”