Parents: Scrap higher and advanced higher exams in 2021

A majority of Scottish parents believe exams for Higher and Advanced Higher should be cancelled next year.

Parents: Scrap higher and advanced higher exams in 2021 STV News

A majority of Scottish parents believe exams for Higher and Advanced Higher should be cancelled next year.

Education Secretary John Swinney has announced National 5 exams have been scrapped but those for Higher and Advanced Higher are still provisionally due to go ahead in May.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland survey found most parents and carers think they should also be scrapped now amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Just over a quarter of parents (26.6%) believe the exams should go ahead in 2021, while 50.6% want them to be cancelled, according to the poll of 4,196 parents and carers.

There were also 22.8% who said they were undecided.

A decision will be made by mid-February on whether the Higher and Advanced Higher exam diet will take place but 75% of parents said it should be announced before Christmas whether they will go ahead.

Scottish Greens education spokesman Ross Greer said: “The ship has long since sailed on any chance of a fair and normal exam timetable in 2021.
“It sailed the moment schools started the new term with the pandemic still ongoing.”

He added: “I am constantly contacted by young people who have had to repeatedly self-isolate, falling weeks behind their peers and now extremely anxious that they will still be expected to take the same exam on the same terms as those fortunate enough to avoid self-isolating.

“It’s no surprise that parents are equally concerned.

“Cancelling exams and moving to a system based on assessment of the work a young person has been able to complete throughout the year is the only viable option so the Scottish Government’s continued refusal to take this decision is frankly unjustifiable.

“John Swinney must reassure parents, pupils and teachers by cancelling the Highers and Advanced Highers now, giving them some certainty before schools break up for Christmas.”

Earlier this month, Swinney told Holyrood’s Education Committee work is ongoing to develop an alternative system for awarding grades after this year’s fiasco with an algorithm found to disproportionally downgrade pupils from more deprived backgrounds.

The Scottish Government ultimately reversed the moderation process and awarded downgraded students the mark predicted by teachers.

“Results will not be given or taken away on the basis of a statistical model or on the basis of a school’s past performance,” Swinney told MSPs.

The SQA will also review the process for pupils appealing their grades, he said, adding: “It’s important that the awarding process is fair to all pupils and that no pupil is disadvantaged by circumstances outwith their control.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our ambition remains for Higher and Advanced Higher exams to proceed if possible.

“It must, however, be safe to do so and it must be fair to learners.

“We are monitoring the position closely and listening to all the different views on this matter, so we welcome this survey.”

He added: “The Deputy First Minister has been clear that the latest point at which a decision will be taken is the February break – which is more than three months before the exams are due to begin.

“He has also been clear that he will make a decision sooner if the evidence is pointing to that.

“Contingency plans are being drawn up to ensure fair and consistent awarding for Higher and Advanced Higher courses should exams not be possible.”

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