School closures: special measures sought for pupils sitting exams

There are concerns for students affected by the school closures, who have exams coming up. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
There are concerns for students affected by the school closures, who have exams coming up. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
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EXAM chiefs are being urged to consider special measures to help pupils caught up in the Edinburgh school closures crisis.

However the national examination body has urged affected pupils to prepare to sit their exams as planned.

Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray said the exams which youngsters are due to sit in the next few weeks were key to their futures.

And he said parents and pupils were worried the current disruption could affect results.

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He said: “I don’t know if there is any mechanism for Edinburgh schools that are off to get special exemption to sit different tests at different times.“I don’t know if something could be done at SQA (Scottish Qualification Authority) level so the affected students could sit the exams later if necessary or give special weight to their prelim results. Parents have contacted me saying their children are really anxious.”

SEE ALSO: Latest updates on affected schools

Mr Murray said disruption, having to go to different schools and, in some cases, not having access to coursework which is locked in the closed buildings were causing worry. “All these little things can make the difference between an A or a B, or a B or a C,” he said.

“There is also concern that some pupils have not yet completed the relevant modules, which would allow them to be presented for their exams. These final weeks before the exams are crucial and parents have expressed huge worry that their children may not feel ready to take them. There is feeling that children have been let down and that they are at a huge disadvantage to their peers across Scotland.”

SEE ALSO: Schools could be closed until summer

In response to the Edinburgh School’s disruption, the country’s national examinations body SQA has advised affected pupils to prepare to sit their exams as planned.

A spokesman for the SQA said: “SQA has established processes in place to deal with potential disruption to the assessment and quality assurance of courses. Clearly our primary concern, in relation to the Edinburgh schools situation, is for all the young people involved. We continue to work closely with Edinburgh City Council to ensure that we understand and can help address the difficulties the schools are experiencing in meeting our deadlines for submissions of assessments or accommodating visiting examining and verification. Where these were scheduled for this week, we have rescheduled them over the coming weeks.

“We are also working with the local authority and individual schools to support them in the practical arrangements for the exams, which begin on Wednesday 4 May. The national timetable of exams will continue as planned and pupils should continue with their studies in preparation to sit their exams on the dates in the published exam timetable.”

Schools ‘self-certified’

Meanwhile, the council has confirmed construction of the 17 affected schools was “self-certified” by the private finance consortium rather than being inspected by the council.

A spokesman said: “The structural designs were self-certified by Edinburgh Schools Partnership’s agent under the relevant building regulations in place at the time. Once construction was complete, their agent also self-certified to the council that the buildings complied with the relevant Building Standards.

“In order to do this, they would have to have been satisfied that each school was complete, in accordance with Building Standards, and that the Building Warrant conditions had been met.

“The council did carry out reasonable inspections to ensure that the buildings appeared to satisfy the terms of the Building Warrant. However, the regulatory system acknowledges that local authorities cannot reasonably monitor each and every aspect of all construction work being carried out.

“As such, reliance was placed upon suitably qualified individuals and the council would not have been responsible for the quality of work done or for supervising builders.”

The council is currently withholding its monthly £1.5m payments to the consortium.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com