Statement: Swift action needed by Scottish Government to ensure Assessment Process is rights-compliant

In a Statement, Head of Strategy for the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, Gina Wilson said: 

“Young people have had their right to education severely limited over the past two educational years and we must see swift action by the Scottish Government to ensure that Scotland’s assessment process for 2021 is fair and rights-compliant.  

“There is still so much that is unknown for young people undertaking assessments, including what evidence is being gathered and what the appeals process will look like. This lack of clarity is causing deep anxiety and stress to young people who are already under pressure. To counter this the SQA must publish its appeals process as a matter of urgency and the process must be one that is fair and respects children’s human rights. It needs to include a direct right of appeal for individuals and crucially take into account exceptional circumstances that may have affected young people’s ability to demonstrate their attainment. We are talking about young people who through no fault of their own have struggled in this pandemic with their learning, some may have experienced bereavement, ill-health or have been excluded from a lot of their education by not having access to a device for remote-learning.  It is essential that the appeals process be one of ‘no detriment’ with no young person downgraded as a result of appealing a mark. The only barrier to making an appeal should be the evidence needed to support it and not the fear of negative consequences.  

“The SQA has communicated that there is flexibility in the system but that does not appear to be the reality that young people are experiencing and sharing with us.  No young person should be unfairly disadvantaged and the SQA must take the broadest approach to what counts as evidence this year to ensure that.  If the SQA fails to do that, Scottish Government can direct it to broaden the grounds for an appeal or review, and if necessary, it should do so.”  

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