Correspondence and consultation regarding the grading for 2020 SQA exams: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

1. All consultation responses from academics, policy experts and stakeholders supplied to the Scottish Government regarding this year’s grading system for SQA exams.

2. All correspondence between academics, policy experts, stakeholders and the Scottish Government which contains advice regarding this year’s grading for SQA exams.


Decisions regarding the grading system for the SQA exams are a matter for SQA as the accreditation and awarding body for Scotland. SQA did not carry out a formal consultation on the grading system for this year’s exams. However, they did engage with key stakeholders around alternatives as a result of the cancellation of this year’s exams. This included input from the Qualifications Contingency Group, chaired by Scottish Government. Separate input was also shared with Scottish Government from the Association of Directors of Education (ADES).

On this basis, attached is a copy of relevant correspondence from these sources that falls under your request in the following Enclosures;

Enclosure 1: Email from the ADES to the Deputy First Minister’s office dated 13 April 2020 sharing input submitted to SQA and the Director for Learning about the use of Band 9 in relation to the grading of National 5 qualifications with one attachment.

1.1 Attachment from Enclosure 1 email – paper on use of Band 9 in relation to grading of National 5 qualifications.

Enclosure 2: Email from officials to the Deputy First Minister’s office dated 28 April 2020 sharing SQA position on ADES input with one attachment.

2.1 Attachment from Enclosure 2 email - SQA position on ADES input.

Enclosure 3: Email from Deputy First Minister’s office to ADES dated 29 April 2020 with one attachment.

3.1 Attachment from Enclosure 3 email - letter of reply to ADES.

Enclosure 4: Email from SQA to the Qualifications Contingency Group dated 30 June 2020 regarding inputs from members on grading of the qualifications (please also see link to minutes of this Group in paragraph below).

Enclosure 5: Email from SQA to the Deputy First Minister dated 4 August 2020 regarding SQA’s methodology for the 2020 National Qualifications Awards containing two attachments.

5.1 First attachment from Enclosure 5 email – letter from SQA to the Deputy First Minister dated 4 August 2020.

5.2 Second attachment from Enclosure 5 email - copy of the Methodology Report for the 2020 National Qualifications Awards (link included to published report in place of attachment as 52 pages long and publicly available).

Some of the information you have requested is available within the minutes from the Qualifications Contingency Group which have been published and can be accessed at

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption under section s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. In this case, personal email and contact details for individuals below Deputy Director level within Scottish Government have been redacted within relevant email messages in the enclosures.

These exemptions are not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI 2020000071159 - Information released


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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