SNP accused of giving private school pupils advantage

Written by Tom Freeman on 29 January 2015 in News

Appeals system widening attainment gap, claims Dugdale

An exam appeals system introduced last year has disadvantaged state school pupils, according to Scottish Labour deputy leader Kezia Dugdale.

Figures obtained by Labour under a freedom of information request show a drop of more than 75 per cent in the number of state school appeals in one year, even taking into account the fall in the number of exams, while appeals from private schools fell at a slower rate.

“The reality is parents of private school pupils can put their hands in their pockets to give their kids a second chance but state school parents can't do the same,” Dugdale said during today’s First Minister’s questions, "kids from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are getting left behind”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said standards in schools are improving and more people than ever from deprived communities were attending university, but invited Dugdale to come forward with proposals to improve the system.

Last summer the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) introduced charges for appeals in a shake-up of the system. Costs include £10 to check if marks have been added up correctly and £39.75 for a full review of marking. While there is no charge if the appeal is successful, invoices are issued to schools if it is unsuccessful.

At private schools parents can choose to pay for the appeals even if a teacher advises against it, while the squeeze on local authority budgets means there are fears state schools will be discouraged to appeal. 

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