Education experts call for S4 exams to be brought forward

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on plans to replace the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Education Scotland.

Education experts call for S4 exams to be brought forward iStock

Exams for S4 pupils should be brought forward to allow more study for assessments in S5, the Government has been told.

The Scottish Government launched a consultation on its new Education Bill, which will legislate for the replacement of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and inspections body Education Scotland.

In its response to the consultation, the Commission on School Reform (CSR) – a group founded by the think tank Reform Scotland – urged ministers to give pupils more time to study for Higher courses.

Currently, pupils sit exams in the early summer before beginning their S5 studies for roughly one month before the summer holidays.

Under the CSR proposals, S4 exams will be moved to before the Easter break, with pupils beginning S5 after the holiday.

The group – made up of educational experts – also pushed for the separation of S4 exams from those in the two latter years, as well as for them to consist of just one paper, in a bid to shorten the exam timetable.

Broad general education – where pupils study a wider range of topics in their first three years at secondary school – should be reduced to two years, the group added.

In its submission to the consultation, the CSR said: “Since the pandemic a veritable plethora of reports on education have been published, but actual reform in Scotland moves at a glacial pace. While the pace of reform is often blamed, rightly, on Government, it is exacerbated by other actors being disingenuous in what they want.

“The Commission on School Reform is happy to contribute to this latest consultation.

“However, there is a lot of reviewing and report writing but very little actual reforming.

“While we do not doubt that implementation of radical change will take time, this also implies that the current system, with all its faults, is here to stay.

“Exams continue to be subjected to a narrow, formulaic assessment system.

“Pupils continue to lose valuable teaching time to revision and assessment, and the system continues to fail to motivate a significant minority of pupils, exacerbating the serious behavioural issues in our schools.

“We cannot keep abandoning more and more pupils to a system everyone agrees is inadequate.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Education Secretary has been clear that she would take the time needed to consider Professor Hayward’s proposals for qualifications reform carefully.

“Key to that has been listening to the views of our teachers, young people and a range of other stakeholders and indeed parliament.”

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