Plans for next year’s school exams to be revealed

The education secretary will speak at Holyrood on Wednesday afternoon.

The education secretary is to address the Scottish Parliament on the plans for exams in the current school year in Scotland.

John Swinney will speak at Holyrood on Wednesday afternoon on the issue, having said last month the objective was to run a full diet in 2021.

In a Q&A session with the National Parent Forum of Scotland, Swinney said the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) had consulted on what steps could be taken to “reduce the burden of assessments” before the exam diet and “what elements could be removed”.

He also said the timetabling of exams was under consideration.

Opposition parties have piled pressure on Swinney on the matter, with Scottish Greens education spokesman Ross Greer calling for the 2021 exams to be cancelled.

The MSP said: “It’s just not possible to say today that the 2021 exams will go ahead.

“Even if they did, it would be at the end of a year in which thousands of young people have already and will continue to have their education disrupted by self-isolation and potential local lockdowns.

“A year of constant uncertainty isn’t fair on teachers or pupils. Making the call now to cancel and replace the exams with a system in which young people are graded on their work throughout the year isn’t just the fairest option, it is the only one which can provide certainty.”

The Scottish Liberal Democrats said pupils and teachers “deserve clarity” regarding the exam diet.

The party’s education spokeswoman Beatrice Wishart said: “They are reaching the mid-term break but still don’t know what they are being assessed on or how.”

Exams were cancelled in the last exam year because of the pandemic, with controversy ensuing after tens of thousands of pupils had their results – initially worked out by teachers’ estimates – downgraded by SQA moderators.

However, in August the downgraded results were replaced by teachers’ estimates and Swinney apologised to students.

He said: “We set out to ensure that the system was fair. We set out to ensure it was credible. But we did not get it right for all young people.

“Before I go any further, I want to apologise for that.

“In speaking directly to the young people affected by the downgrading of awards – the 75,000 pupils whose teacher estimates were higher than their final award – I want to say this: I am sorry.”

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