Education professor to lead Scottish Government review into exam failings

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A leading education expert from the University of Stirling is to lead an independent review in to the handling of this year’s Scottish school exam results.

Professor Mark Priestley has been tasked with studying the process that led to tens of thousands of pupils receiving lower than expected marks, after exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Scottish Education Minister John Swinney made the announcement in Parliament during a statement in which he also apologised to pupils directly affected by the downgrading of the awards.

More than a quarter of school pupils in Scotland had exam results changed after a new moderation system was introduced by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) following the cancellation of exams.

During his statement to MSPs, Mr Swinney said that it was “deeply regrettable we got this wrong” and announced all downgraded results would be withdrawn and replaced by the original estimates. He also told Parliament that the Government hoped to learn lessons for the future and said the review led by Professor Priestley would provide initial findings within five weeks.

Professor Priestley said: "This is a hugely important issue that has attracted a great deal of attention, and I am honoured to be asked to contribute to the review."

The review will look at a number of areas including: the advice provided by the SQA and local authorities, the approach developed in relation to estimating learners’ grades, the methodology used by the SQA, and the proposed appeals process. It will also study the impact on pupils and their families as well as the role of scrutiny in the process.