'We did not get this right': Sturgeon apologises after criticism over exam results

Credit: PA

The First Minister has apologised for how exams results have been dealt with this year, admitting “we did not get this right”.

It comes after the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) moderation process saw thousands of pupils receive lower grades than their teachers’ estimates.

Nicola Sturgeon was speaking ahead of education secretary John Swinney’s statement in the Scottish Parliament, which will take place on Tuesday.

The First Minister said: ""We will be taking steps to ensure that every young person gets a grade that recognises the work they have done.

"Our concern - which was to make sure that the grades young people got were as valid as those they would have got in any other year - perhaps led us to think too much about the overall system and not enough about the individual pupil.

“And that has meant that too many students feel they have lost out on grades that they should have had and also that that has happened as a result of – not that anything they’ve done – but because of a statistical model or an algorithm.

Students in Glasgow protest against the Scottish Qualifications Authority method of producing exam results. Credit: PA

The Higher pass rate of pupils in the most deprived data zones was reduced by 15.2% from teacher estimates after moderation. In contrast, the pass rate for pupils from the most affluent backgrounds dropped by 6.9%.

Ms Sturgeon added: "That burden has not fallen equally across our society. Despite our best intentions, I acknowledge we did not get this right and I'm sorry."

“But instead of doing what politicians sometimes do and dig our heels in, we are determined to acknowledge that and put it right.

"There are deeper questions that we will need to resolve for the longer term about the impact of exams on the attainment gap and on the difference between exams and teacher judgement, but the most most immediate challenge is to award the grades to students this year."

Education secretary John Swinney. Credit: PA

The First Minister will set out the next steps to the Scottish parliament on Tuesday and stressed that she does not expect students to appeal their results. She said: "This is not the fault of students and therefore it should not be on students to fix it."