An SNP MP says she is "deeply concerned" after pupils in the most deprived areas of Scotland had their exam pass rate downgraded by more than twice that of students from the wealthiest parts of the country.

Exams for nationals, highers and advanced higher courses were scrapped this year due to the COVID-19 lockdown, with teachers instead submitting estimated grades based on students' previous results, predicted attainment and evidence of their past work.

The grades were then looked at by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), which has moderated 26.2% of them, while leaving the rest unchanged.

Of those grades that were moderated, 93.1% were downgraded, affecting 124,564 pupils.

Image: Pupils celebrate their exam results at Linwood High in Renfrewshire

The pass rate of pupils in the most deprived data zones was reduced by 15.2% from teacher estimates after the exam board's moderation.


In contrast, the pass rate for pupils from the most affluent backgrounds dropped by 6.9%.

SNP MP Mhairi Black tweeted: "I am deeply concerned by the information released today, which shows students from deprived areas saw their results reduced from their predicted grades at a higher rate than those from wealthier areas.

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"The Scottish government must address this."

If you got the results you wants and youre now looking ahead to sitting your Highers next, or going to college or uni, I hope you really take the time to savour this moment. You deserve it!


— Mhairi Black MP🏳️‍🌈 (@MhairiBlack) August 4, 2020

Opposition politicians have warned that there will a "deluge" of appeals, and accused the SQA of treating the professional judgement of teachers with "contempt" by changing so many grades.

Scottish Labour's education spokesperson Iain Gray said: "Too many have seen their results lowered, often with passes turned into fails, damaging their prospects for university or college.

"Worst of all, the SQA have done this on the basis of each school's past performance, marking the school not the pupil, and baking in the attainment gap.

"They were told that this would be grossly unfair and it is. The SQA have also treated teachers' professional judgement with contempt."

He added: "The SQA will now be deluged with appeals – I hope they are ready to deal with them properly."

SNP MP Mhairi Black
Image: SNP MP Mhairi Black has hit out at the moderated figures

Nicola Sturgeon has defended the SQA over the moderation process and she claimed the system helped to maintain the "credibility" of results.

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