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Gone through the ceiling

I'm pleased to have the chance to clarify one misunderstanding that arose in your front page story last week about the withdrawal of derived grades from our national qualifications system.

One of the individuals who commented on this change suggested the Scottish Qualifications Authority should remove a 10 per cent ceiling on the number of appeals an examination presentation centre can submit to us.

Let me be clear that the SQA does not have, and has no plans to introduce, any upper limit on the number of appeals a centre can submit.

In the past, we have asked centres for explanations of their circumstances if they have gone through a 10 per cent figure, but the purpose of this has been to help us understand better how centres and education professionals have been using the appeals system.

While the vast majority of students get their awards on the basis of their performance in external examinations, appeals are for those who fail to perform up to expectation on the day of the examination and for whom there is valid and reliable evidence of their ability to do better.

If a centre has a lot of students of the same subject, who find themselves performing below expectation, we have to look to see if the estimates were sound. We ask centres that have a significant number of candidates who fail to gain their estimated grades to explain to our examiners why they think this has happened.

Tom Drake

Interim Chief Executive

Scottish Qualifications Authority

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