Teachers fear increased stress after exam change

Pupils are about to sit Nationals and Highers. Picture: AFP
Pupils are about to sit Nationals and Highers. Picture: AFP
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A LEADING teaching union has hit out at examiners days before students began the exam season over a delay in allowing teachers to view papers.

Preventing teachers from seeing exams soon after pupils have sat the tests is not in the interests of youngsters and could cause greater stress, the EIS teaching union has warned.

Union chiefs said the Scottish Qualifications Authority’s (SQA) changes mean teachers will not be able to provide immediate feedback to youngsters after their exams.

Teachers will not be able to view papers until the day after the exams under new proposals according to the union, and it called on the SQA to “show greater trust” in the teaching profession.

The row erupted as thousands of students at schools across Scotland are preparing for and sitting National and Higher exams.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan branded the move “disappointing” and accused the SQA of “apparently putting the management of its own public image ahead of the desire of pupils to discuss exam papers with their teachers”.

He also said pupils would suffer increased stress levels as a result of the move.

He added: “It is very important for pupils, following the often stressful experience of an exam, to have the opportunity to discuss the paper with their teachers and to receive feedback while the experience is fresh in their mind.”

“This then allows pupils to put that exam behind them, and free them up to mentally prepare for their next exam.

“It is not in the interest of pupils to prolong this process unnecessarily, as this can lead to increased worry and stress on the part of the young people concerned.

“The SQA should rethink this policy, show greater trust in the teaching profession and support teachers in continuing to put the interests of pupils first.

“Some teachers will be suspicious that this new policy is simply a case of the SQA trying to avoid scrutiny of its own standards.”

A spokesman for the SQA said: “We continually review our processes, particularly in the area of question paper security and confidentiality.

“At the end of each exam, invigilators are required to collect all unused exam papers, which are then returned to the chief invigilators.

“Those unused papers will now be released to heads of centres the next day.

“We took this decision to prevent any breach of question paper security and confidentiality, but to also remove the risk of inappropriate postings on social media which can cause distress for candidates.”

Around 127,000 Scottish pupils from over 450 schools are sitting a variety of exams ranging in level from National one to Higher across the exam season in the second year of the new Curriculum for Excellence.

The exam season officially ends on Friday, June 2, with pupils receiving their results on Tuesday, August 8.