Pupils at a Three Towns secondary school had half their school results downgraded.

More children at Ardrossan Academy who would have been sitting their National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher exams, were awarded a lower grade than what their teacher estimated than had the prediction unchanged.

A North Ayrshire Council table seen by the Herald shows that Ardrossan Academy students suffered the most in the system with 44 per cent of results being lowered by one grade and a futher six per cent lowered by more.

This means 566 individual grades at the school were decreased, with a total of 1,130 awarded at the school.

Neighbouring St Matthew's Academy only had 27 per cent of its estimated grades lowered.

Auchenharvie Academy had 35 per cent of results lowered by one grade and one per cent lowered by more than that.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald:

Across North Ayrshire, more school pupils achieved National 5, Highers and Advanced Highers than in the previous two years.

There were 12,370 results received for graded qualifications across the region, with the SQA rejecting almost a third of teachers' estimates.

Councillor John Bell, cabinet member for education, said: “I’d like to congratulate many of the pupils who received the results they were hoping for. A massive well done to you.

“We recognise that some pupils will be disappointed and I like many others, have serious concerns regarding the grading approach used

“We want to make sure that every pupil in North Ayrshire is supported and teachers and staff will be there to help them navigate the appeals process..

“We want our young people to be treated fairly and the most important outcome is that they get the result they deserve.”

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald:

Overall, the nationwide results for all Scottish examinations were higher than last year.

Scotland's chief examiner Fiona Robertson pointed out that the SQA accepted almost three-quarters of teacher estimates.

In March, schools across the country were closed and exams were cancelled for the first time in history.

Then it was announced that coursework would not be marked for with teachers asked to estimate grades for each pupil instead. The existing bands were further subdivided and pupils were ranked in order.

The SQA told teachers that their judgements should be based on a pupil's activity throughout the whole school year, not just the prelim results or performance on one project.

This meant they could take into account any schoolwork completed in the subject and then use their professional judgement to estimate the pupil's progress to come to a predicted grade if normal circumstances had continued.

Using each school's exam result history, the SQA determined the maximum and minimum pass rates for each course at every school. Then, where a school had predicted grades outside of this range, the ranking positions of children were used to determine who should keep their results and who should drop a grade or more.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald:

Higher pass rates for pupils from the most deprived backgrounds was reduced by 15.2 per cent, whereas for the wealthiest pupils the reduction was just 6.9 per cent.

An SQA spokesperson said: “We believe we have delivered fairness to learners, through a consistent, evidence-based approach in the absence of exams. We have maintained the integrity and credibility of our qualifications system, ensuring that standards are maintained over time, in the interests of learners, through judicious moderation of grades.

“The most disadvantaged young people have achieved better results in 2020 compared to both 2019 and the average results for the last four years. 

“Our free appeals service is open and schools and colleges that have questions about a candidate’s final grade can appeal the result, if it is lower than what they estimated.”