Pupils 'not ready' for full return of exams, teacher survey reveals

The SQA announced it would be reinstating coursework and exam assessment for 2023/24.

Scottish pupils ‘not ready’ for full return of exams, SSTA teacher survey reveals STV News

Nine out of ten teachers say pupils in their schools are not ready for exams to return, an initial survey has shown.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) confirmed that course assessment for practical subjects at National 5, Highers and Advanced Highers level will return in the 2023/24 exam diet.

However, teachers say pupils are not prepared for the return of the full requirements, which were removed during the Covid-19 pandemic to limit the impact of disruption of learning.

Among the responses to the survey included teachers who said the decision would “likely tip many teachers and pupils over the edge as far as workload issues and stress are concerned”.

The survey, carried out by Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA), involved responses from 2,000 members within one week.

Another respondent said: “To return to pre pandemic course structure would be a major concern! The majority of our students really struggled to meet deadlines this session and this includes our very able pupils!

“We simply don’t have enough class contact time next session to go back, I believe there will be even more blank spaces in pupils folios and to return to full courses content pupil grades will decline even more.”

The survey also found that 53% of respondents so far have been SQA markers or are current SQA markers, however, only 35% said they would return.

It comes as the Scottish Government prepares to replace the SQA with a new qualifications body in 2024.

The union’s general secretary, Seamus Searson, described the decision as “at best foolhardy and at worst negligent”.

He said: “The damage to pupils’ learning and the task for teachers in trying to bridge the gap cannot be underestimated, and to make more changes to the qualifications when the whole qualifications system is about to change is at best foolhardy and at worst negligent.

“This is the SQA’s last attempt to take control and is not about putting the pupils front and centre.”

He added that teachers have not forgotten the “damage” caused as a result of the alternative certification model (ACM) introduced in 2020.

The system resulted in grades being determined by teacher judgements but was later “modified” by a system which considered factors including school performance, which many described as placing a postcode lottery on pupils.

Mr Searson said the initial survey results showed a “willingness in some subjects and at some levels to introduce a phased change” to the current examination arrangements.

He added: “The SQA has ignored the impact of the pandemic upon teachers and pupils and is set upon its own agenda which is more concerned about cementing its position in the education landscape.”

Some elements of the modifications will remain for a small number of courses where examiners have assessed that it is a better way for learners to demonstrate their knowledge.

Fiona Robertson, the SQA’s chief executive, said the return would give pupils the chance to showcase their full understanding on their courses.

Full survey results will be revealed after its closure on Friday.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code