Edinburgh MSP's survey finds three-quarters of pupils dissatisfied with SQA assessment process
More than three quarters of senior pupils who took part in a survey organised by an Edinburgh MSP said they were “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with the current assessment process to grade their national qualifications.
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Labour’s Daniel Johnson wrote to all 16 and 17-year-olds in his Edinburgh Southern constituency to ask them about their experience and views on the process amid concerns that they were effectively being made to sit exams despite being told it would all be decided on teachers’ judgement.
He received 230 responses, with 49 per cent of pupils saying they were “very dissatisfied” and 28 per cent describing themselves as “dissatisfied”.
Some 73 of the responses specifically mentioned the unfairness of the system and 96 commented on the stress and strain the whole process had caused them.
Mr Johnson sad he would now be writing to the Scottish Government and the Scottish Qualifications Authority to highlight the findings.
National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams have been cancelled for a second year because of the Covid pandemic, but the government insisted it would avoid the fiasco of last year’s attempt to award qualifications by algorithm, which saw pupils from poorer areas arbitrarily downgraded before ministers did a U-turn and reverted to teacher assessments instead.
But assurances that this year’s awards would be based purely on teacher assessments were undermined when the SQA issued tests for pupils to sit under exam conditions, leading to claims they amounted to exams in all but name.
Mr Johnson said the responses to hs survey were “damning and extremely worrying”.
He said: “Pupils have been under so much pressure since the outbreak of the pandemic and it's very concerning to hear so many mention how stressful the experience has been and how unfair they have found the system.
“These injustices need to be addressed. We owe it to our young people after the year they have had with the pandemic.
"There is a strong feeling from many of the young people that they have had a constantly moving target about what they would be facing and how they would be assessed this year.
"Before Christmas they were very much left with the impression it would be continuous assessment, then a lot of people felt the prelims would be the most important thing and then finally we got these mini-exams.
“All the while the government was saying it would be ‘a range of evidence’ but actually it’s not a range of evidence, it’s just these tests.
"I think there is a real sense of unfairness, lack of clarity and a lot of stress – and all these things need to be taken into consideration when grades are being awarded.
"The brutal point is there is a real strength of feeling that this has not been managed well and not been managed fairly and the government and the SQA need to take heed of that.
“I would like to thank all those who took the time to respond and I will now make contact with the SQA and the Scottish Government with these troubling responses.”