A teaching union has rejected proposals for appeals against this summer’s grades for national qualifications to be handled by schools.
The Scottish branch of the NASUWT has told the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) that it does not support any of its three options for handling appeals this year.
In a submission to the SQA’s consultation on the appeals process, the NASUWT said that the proposed models were “flawed, unrealistic and undermining of the academic rigour, professionalism and integrity of the Scottish education system.”
The union also believes that they will “cause significant distress to the teaching workforce and potentially open the floodgates to litigation.”
The consultation opened for responses on March 12 and will close at midnight on March 26.
The SQA has identified three ways of managing appeals for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher in 2021, each needing involvement with schools and colleges and SQA.
Exams in Scotland have been cancelled due to the pandemic for the second year running, with final grades being decided by teacher estimates and a “quality assurance” procedure overseen by the SQA.
Options are “completely unacceptable”
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said each of the proposed models for this year’s appeals were all “sub-optimal.”
He said: “There is no consideration of other approaches to the management of appeals this year.
“Offering only a narrow range of sub-optimal options, all of which threaten to drive up teacher and school leader workload is completely unacceptable.
“The SQA has completely failed to consider other options which do not involve teachers in managing the appeals process.
“The NASUWT will be pressing the SQA and ministers to work with us and other stakeholders to urgently design a fit for purpose appeals system which will work to the benefit, not the detriment, of pupils, teachers and schools.”
“The SQA has also failed to consider the damage its proposals could do to relationships between schools and families.”
NASUWT National Official Scotland Jane Peckham
NASUWT national official for Scotland Jane Peckham added: “The proposals fail to recognise or reflect the fact that teachers are already working under extreme pressure in determining and submitting centre assessed grades for pupils this year and in supporting all their pupils to catch up and recover their education from the impact of the pandemic.
“The SQA has completely failed to take into consideration the huge difficulties in capacity managing a system of internal appeals would have on schools and the workforce.
“The SQA has also failed to consider the damage its proposals could do to relationships between schools and families.
“An expensive, time-consuming and wasteful appeal process will serve only to damage relationships at a time where the focus should be on supporting recovery and rebuilding morale.”
“No decisions have been taken”
Responding to the comments made by the NASUWT, an SQA spokesman said: “No decisions have been taken.
“The SQA consultation on the 2021 national qualifications appeals process seeks views on a range of draft proposals.
“We want to hear from teachers, lecturers, parents, carers, learners and other stakeholders, to inform final proposals.
“The consultation runs until 26 March, following which we will work with partners to agree and publish the final appeals process in early May.”