‘We’re Just Collateral Damage’: School Students Speak Out

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After a week of anger over the SQA’s downgrading scandal, which saw working-class students stripped of their grades, students organised a demonstration in Glasgow’s George square. Conter spoke to some about how they had been treated and what they are demanding.

Quin, Kings Park Secondary: “My sister and most of her friends and my friends have all been downgraded for no reason. I’m just here to support them. I know the SQA has messed up and they need to fix what they have ruined.

“They have to change. We need to fight together to get something done in this world.

“Where you go to school, describes your…I don’t know the words, but it describes you as a person. If you are working-class you won’t make it as well because you are seen as a lower class.

“It doesn’t matter what class we are from. The SQA has messed up.”

Aiden Duguid, Castlemilk High: “I was meant to be getting 2 As and 3 Bs. I’m now sitting with 3 Ds and 2 Cs. I’ve been dropped dramatically.

”I was looking to go to uni and do law. I’m only in fifth year, going into sixth. So I’m now going to have to sit another five highers to try and get the grades I need.

“We were downgraded for the area we live in. I mean, I don’t come from an overly poor family but because of the school – it’s a good school, but because of the area…

“The younger kids at school are just going to be saying ‘what’s the point in trying if you’re not getting something you worked hard all year for’? This is going to create an effect where these schools get worse as time goes on. And they weren’t really bad in the first place, it was a perception people had of the area.

“The SQA should take the teacher estimates and give students the grades we deserve.”

Karis, Castlemilk High: “All my results have been downgraded. Not the grades I was predicted and it’s going to really impact my uni. If I’ve just got the grades I’ve got now I’m not going to make it to Strathclyde uni.

“[Asked if it’s about area and class] Yes, Definitely.

“I’ve worked hard all year. People who are up in the higher [social] class are getting grades that some of them don’t deserve and I’m sitting here with grades that I know don’t show what I’m about.”

Steven Robinson, St Luke’s High School: “I was downgraded, I didn’t get the mark I needed to go to Stirling University. I don’t feel that’s fair. It wasn’t my own ability I failed on.

“I have dyslexia, which obviously doesn’t help in exams. I’ve been bullied, just before I sat my prelims I was off ill for appendicitis. I still managed a B in that exam. That was downgraded to a C.

“I’m here to ensure everyone gets the marks they deserve. It’s inherently about class. The schools that have the best records, those areas have the most money. St Luke’s intake is for one of the most deprived areas. They have failed here.”

Dylan Divine, Hamilton Grammar: “I’m angry, my grades have been affected. I’m not over-exaggerating I would have had As, but instead I’ve come out with Ds. I don’t see how that jump makes sense, and it doesn’t make sense to me.

“I wanted to study politics at university. Now it’s looking like college instead.

“It’s about where I come from, historically my school records lower grades but why should that reflect on me?

“It’s an insult. I tried so hard this year and I’ve been slapped in the face. I’m just collateral damage to them.”

Image: Megan Douglas

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