Wednesday 19 August

Following the Deputy First Minister’s direction to SQA, there are three grounds upon which a centre can submit an appeal.

The head of centre believes there has been:

  1. an error within SQA’s internal processes for reinstating the original centre estimate.
  2. an administrative error within the centre leading to provision of estimate information to SQA which did not accurately reflect the centre’s intention at the time of submission, and/or
  3. discrimination or other conduct contrary to the Equality Act 2010 identified within the centre relating to protected characteristics, leading to the provision of estimate information to SQA which does not accurately reflect the centre’s view following investigation of the circumstances carried out by the centre.

We anticipate these grounds will arise only exceptionally.

It is only the head of centre, or their nominated representative, using their professional judgement and discretion, who can submit an appeal.

Ground 2 above does not permit an appeal where the centre seeks to revise the original estimate on the basis that it considers that its academic judgement as to the estimate in May was wrong.

Centres are asked to ensure the following in progressing an appeal:

The appeals process

Following receipt of a 'request for consideration by exception' form, the request will be considered by a panel of senior SQA officers, with the final outcome signed off by an SQA Director and centres notified of the outcome in writing. The outcome will be either that the appeal is unsuccessful for which SQA will provide reasoning or the appeal is successful, and the estimate provided by the centre will be awarded.

In line with other appeals services operated by SQA, a centre can use the escalated appeals process if the centre believes that there has been a procedural irregularity when SQA has carried out this appeals process which has affected the outcome of the appeal. However, due to the tight timelines involved, it will not be possible to conclude escalated appeals ahead of the deadline for Universities and College Admissions System or Higher Education Institution deadlines for admission to courses for 2020–21.

Further information on the escalated appeal process will be published for centres on SQA Connect in due course.


My school or college says it can't appeal under the new process. What can I do now?

Please use your school or college's internal procedure to take this complaint further.

I've used my school or college complaints procedure but I'm still not happy with the outcome. What action can I take now?

The relevant complaints procedure within the school or college should explain your options to escalate your appeal, for example you may be able to refer your complaint to the local authority or to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

I've been told that I can't appeal the academic judgement of my estimated grade under the appeals process. Why is this?

Academic judgements made during the estimation process cannot be appealed. Schools and colleges undertook a rigorous process in May 2020 to decide estimates, which included internal quality assurance measures such as review of estimates by more than one teacher and approval by the Head of centre.

As announced on 11 August, SQA was directed to adopt centre estimates as the basis of awarding in 2020 and that the planned appeals process involving review of evidence by SQA subject experts was not needed. Therefore, the revised appeals process does not include a review of academic judgements of estimated grades.

Tuesday 11 August

Following on from Education Secretary John Swinney's statement to Parliament, where it was announced all downgraded awards will be withdrawn and results re-issued based solely on teacher or lecturer judgement.

Read SQA news statement