After cancellation of exams, grades awarded to pupils must reflect their ability – John McLellan

By the time the school results are published in August, we might finally be on the other side of the pandemic.
With exams cancelled this year, there is concern about whether the marks awarded will reflect pupils' abilities (Picture: David Davies/PA Wire)With exams cancelled this year, there is concern about whether the marks awarded will reflect pupils' abilities (Picture: David Davies/PA Wire)
With exams cancelled this year, there is concern about whether the marks awarded will reflect pupils' abilities (Picture: David Davies/PA Wire)

But with schools now closed until February at the earliest and exams already cancelled, the question is whether what is announced will stand any comparison to previous years.

Last year, the vast majority of coursework had been completed by the time lockdown kicked in and what was lost was largely the study time for the cancelled exams. This year, the coursework itself has been badly disrupted and there is the real prospect of there being no prelim exams on which to base assessments.

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On what this year’s qualifications will be based is uncertain and a new paper produced by the Reform Scotland think-tank’s Commission on School Reform points out that although the government has had enough time to plan “there are alarming signs that schools feel they have not yet received adequate guidance”.

The commission, including Edinburgh University’s Profession Lindsay Paterson, Royal High Primary headteacher Anna Hazel-Dunn and East Lothian SNP councillor Paul McLennan, observed, “It is not clear that steps are being taken to ensure that… judgments will be based, at least partly, on real evidence about the work of the individual candidate.”

The implications of education certificates which don’t represent the attainment the grades suggest could have very serious consequences for those young people going into colleges or universities, but by then it will be too late for too many and the quality of Scottish education will have slipped further.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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