HERMITAGE Academy pupils who feel they’ve been unfairly downgraded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority have been urged to contact the school as soon as possible.

The advice comes from former Academy pupil Rosie Sumsion, who represents the Helensburgh and Lomond area at the Scottish Youth Parliament.

Rosie spoke to the Advertiser amid mounting controversy over the way the qualifications body decided on pupils’ grades following the cancellation of this year’s exam diet because of the coronavirus crisis.

Although results – which were delivered to pupils in Helensburgh and across Scotland on Tuesday – were worked out using teachers’ estimates, based on pupils’ coursework during the year, the SQA employed a ‘national moderation system’ which meant that many pupils received lower grades than originally estimated.

It’s not yet clear how many pupils from Hermitage were affected, though national data suggests that high-achieving pupils from less affluent backgrounds may have been among those who were particularly badly hit.

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Rosie said: “After the SYP fed back to the SQA on this year’s alternative certification method, we had hoped that results would remain fair and representative.

“It doesn’t feel as though that has been the case.

“I have seen pupils across Scotlands receive grades significantly below any level they have been predicted throughout the year. High attaining pupils who have been predicted A/Bs have suddenly received C/Ds.

“For young people with conditional offers for university or college, or who are about to begin the application process, their future plans can suddenly feel incredibly unstable.

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“In the case of Hermitage Academy, you should phone the school office and priority will be given to pupils with conditional college or university offers then other pupils.

“While it must be recognised that many pupils have received their expected marks, I feel awful for all the pupils who have worked so hard throughout this year and whose qualifications do not represent their dedication or potential.

“I am sure there will be further investigation into how the grading process has worked and as an MSYP I am here to represent young people and will feedback any experiences, concerns, and comments to the SQA.

“It also feels an appropriate time to remind people there is #NoWrongPath to education, a job, or success. I hope that all young people are able to continue towards their future plans, despite this year’s results.”

Detailed data on Argyll and Bute pupils’ exam performance has yet to be made public, although the topic is likely to come up when the council’s community services committee meets at the end of this month.

The local authority’s education spokesperson urged pupils concerned that they may have been unfairly downgraded to get in touch with their school if they haven’t already done so.

READ MORE: 'Nothing will be ruled out to help pupils get back on track', says Hermitage Academy head

Councillor Yvonne McNeilly said: “We all want success for our young people. Achieving it has never been more challenging than this year.

“Wholehearted congratulations to all our young people who achieved the qualifications they hoped for.

“For anyone disappointed, please do get in touch. You’re not on your own; our schools are here to help you.”

A council spokesperson said: “We would ask pupils with any concerns over their grades to get in touch directly with their school.”

Guidance issued by the council states that only schools can request a review of a grade, and can only do so if they have “appropriate evidence to support the estimate” provided by a teacher.

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