MORE than a third of pupil grades in West Dunbartonshire are to be raised to what their teachers said they should be.

In a stark U-turn on Tuesday, Education Secretary John Swinney said 125,000 results marked down by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) would be put back up.

Pupils in areas of deprivation were hit hardest because past school results were used to calculate what youngsters marks should be in the first year ever without exams.

The government defended the SQA and its system despite wide criticism and protests from pupils and parents that their postcode mattered more than the teacher estimates from class work and prelim exams.

West Dunbartonshire Council, in a report leaked to the Post, said 36 per cent of results in the area were below teacher expectations.

But they said the figure has been around 33 per cent in recent years. The government said their calculations maintained "credibility".

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon apologised and a motion of no confidence is being brought against Mr Swinney in the Scottish Parliament this week.

Angry parents have slammed the postcode lottery hitting their children in Clydebank.

One Clydebank High mum, who asked not to be named, said her son's French class was overwhelmingly marked down with only pupil achieving their expected grade.

She said: "I know the SQA have to 'average' the results somehow, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to how it's been done.

“The 'poorer' schools seem to have been downgraded more which is disappointing for lots of kids who worked hard and deserved better.

“The teacher has no idea why this happened, you could tell she was really annoyed and feels let down by SQA.

“I’ve also seen some kids had been upgraded in other areas, I have no idea how they could manage that without sufficient evidence.

“But overall, I just think SQA has had to downgrade marks to keep them more around the average for previous years. Which probably works overall, but individually there will be some who lose out.”

Her son was also marked down in physics despite achieving over 90 per cent in his prelim. She now plans to appeal.

WDC bosses initially said last week they were unaware of any issues with results, then emphasised how they were up compared to 2019.

Clydebank Post:

In a statement before the U-turn, Jim Halfpenny, joint secretary of the West Dunbartonshire branch of the EIS teachers’ union, condemned the SQA's actions.

He said: “With one sweep of its pen The SQA has reinforced the shameful, unjust nature of our economic and social class-ridden education system.

“Having claimed that this year’s school exam results would be formed primarily from teacher estimates it has betrayed that professional judgement by slashing pupil grades particularly among those children from the poorest areas.

“The SQA with the support of the Scottish Government has exposed an education system that favours the affluent and penalises the poor.

“It is not a coincidence that those children from poorer areas, in proportion, consistently do less well than children from more prosperous areas.

“To be better off means to have every support needed to be successful at school. To be poor means to have limited resources, limited role models and the crushing weight of social and emotional deprivation. Achievement in exams can become one struggle too many.”

Some West Dunbartonshire high schools saw large leaps in results compared to 2019 as opposed to what the estimated grades should have been.

Clydebank High, St Peter the Apostle High and Vale of Leven Academy were all up in Advanced Highers.

Highers results were up for four schools but Vale of Leven saw awards drop.

National 5 results were also up with the exception of OLSP.

Overall, West Dunbartonshire’s average beats the Scottish national picture, except in Advanced Highers. St Peter the Apostle High did better than the average across all levels.

Clydebank Post:

Labour Councillor and education committee member Douglas McAllister said he was “absolutely furious” that the pupils were judged “on their postcode”, not their record.

And he had called for an emergency council meeting and possible legal action against the government prior to the U-turn.

He said: “The attainment gap between the richest and poorest children in Scotland rubber stamped by the SNP government.

“Regardless of your political persuasions you surely cannot fail to recognise the burning injustice felt by Scotland’s young people. However, the treatment of West Dunbartonshire’s children is sickening.

“I have absolutely no doubt that our teachers used their skill, judgement and expert knowledge of each pupil to honestly grade the young people of West Dunbartonshire.”

Initially last Tuesday, West Dunbartonshire Council said: “We have not been made aware of any concern regarding the exam results.”

On Wednesday, they said support would be offered from schools to any pupils who wanted to appeal.

A WDC spokeswoman later said: “In West Dunbartonshire 36 per cent of estimates were downgraded, however, It is important to highlight that overall our results increased at National 4, National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher in comparison to 2019.

"Our teachers used their knowledge, experience and judgement to recommend grades of pupils to the SQA in unprecedented circumstances."

After the U-turn, the council said revised figures will be presented to the education later in the year.

The spokeswoman said: "Our schools have been in touch with parents and carers to update them following yesterday’s announcement and will continue to offer support to pupils to help them with their future career plans."