Twice as many appeals are now made proportionately by private schools, Labour deputy leader Kezia Dugdale told Parliament.
“The reality is that parents of private school pupils can put their hands in their pockets to give their kids a second chance but state school parents can’t. The reality is that the SNP’s appeals charges mean the system now favours private school pupils more than ever. That’s not right.”
State school appeals in Scotland fell by 55,000 – more than 75 per cent – in the past year, according to figures released by Labour. Private schools appealed in 3.6 per cent of exams sat by their pupils, against 1.5 per cent in state schools.
The new system of charging came in last year amid budget cuts for local authorities.
A fee of £10 is charged to check if marks have been added up correctly and a full review of marking costs £39.75. If an appeal succeeds, it is free, but schools are invoiced if it fails.
The Scottish government insisted the drop in both state and private school appeals reflects a change in rules that makes it harder to appeal. But parents of private pupils sometimes pay the schools to appeal, it has been reported.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon said the system was “right and proportionate” and gave “young people the best opportunity of fulfilling their potential at school”.
More state school appeals – 26 per cent – are successful than private school ones, at 24 per cent. A Scottish government spokeswoman said a key change in the system was to end the process by which a wide range of supporting material could be submitted to the SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) as part of the appeal as evidence of a pupil’s ability.
“That simply does not happen under the new system. This was always expected to significantly reduce the number of appeals, given that we have significantly reduced the grounds for appeal.”