Address human rights violations relating to exams, Commissioner tells Education Secretary

The Children’s Commissioner has urged the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills to use her statutory powers to remedy human rights breaches relating to young people’s exams and appeals. 

Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, has written to Shirley-Anne Somerville to express ongoing concerns about the human rights compliance of the alternative certification model and appeals process used to replace exams in 2020 and 2021.  

Young people in Scotland faced disruption to SQA exams and assessments in both academic years due to the pandemic, and their right to education was severely impacted.  

During this time, our office has repeatedly raised concerns to the Scottish Government and the SQA about exams, assessments and appeals. 

This week, the SQA published its appeal data for 2021. The Commissioner is particularly concerned about the rights of young people who appealed in 2020 and 2021 not being upheld. 

The 2020 cohort who remain disadvantaged should be able to appeal directly and on the basis of limited additional grounds. 

He has urged the Cabinet Secretary to immediately ensure that young people are treated fairly and get the results they deserve. 

In the letter, the Commissioner writes: “I remain of the view that, as Cabinet Secretary, you have the statutory power to remedy these rights breaches by making a Section 9 direction requiring the SQA to allow the small number of young people in the 2020 cohort to appeal directly and on the basis of limited additional grounds my office has suggested, and to amend the 2021 appeal grounds to ensure they provide a remedy for children and young people who may have experienced discrimination.” 

Read about our previous work on exams, assessments and appeals

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