Scottish Government warned exam ‘reprieve’ must not be temporary

The Scottish Government has been warned the exam “reprieve” must not be temporary as plans for 2022 are set to be published in coming days.
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Ministers are believed to be planning a return to exams next year in a bid to stabilise the education system after the chaos caused by the Covid pandemic.

However, the programme is also understood to include contingency plans for continuous assessment should exams need to be cancelled again.

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Shadow education secretary Oliver Mundell has demanded the SNP rule out any plans to scrap traditional exams again.

First Minister of Scotland and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon at Empire School of Dance in Airdrie.First Minister of Scotland and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon at Empire School of Dance in Airdrie.
First Minister of Scotland and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon at Empire School of Dance in Airdrie.

The Scottish Conservative MSP, said: “Those involved in Scottish education will be breathing a sigh of relief that exams look set to return next year. However, this must not be a temporary reprieve from the SNP.

“Traditional exams are a cornerstone of Scotland’s educational system. They are the fairest and best way of judging what pupils know and what they can do. The SNP must commit to retaining them for the long term.

“The SNP have presided over chaos in our exam system during the pandemic, but that should not be used as an excuse to ditch rigorous exams going forward.

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“The failures lie with the lack of leadership from SNP ministers, not the system.

“Nicola Sturgeon left students, parents and teachers in limbo over the summer period when she refused to rule out a radical move to scrap exams.

“Ditching exams would remove one of the last hallmarks of Scotland’s world-leading education system. The SNP have already overseen Scotland sliding down international league tables.

“It is time for the SNP’s education secretary to guarantee that next year won’t just be a one-off return for exams.

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“They must be used as a platform to revitalise and strengthen Scotland’s educational standards going forward, which have been significantly diminished under the SNP.”

The Scottish Government is expected to this week tell pupils they will return to exams next year, though some changes to normal procedure are expected.

It is waiting for a second report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Scottish Government has previously been criticised over a growing attainment gap between affluent and poorer students, as well as the the rising disability attainment gap in school exams.

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Labour MSP Michael Marra said: “Throughout the pandemic the government has failed to get the necessary support to those who need it, and this year’s exam results spell out the consequences of this loud and clear.

“We should be constantly working to remove barriers facing disabled pupils in the education system so we can tackle the disability attainment gap.”

Scotland's education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has previously claimed she could not see a scenario where exams would be abolished.

It comes with many children set to return to school in person this Wednesday or Thursday, with some in council areas including Angus already being back in education.

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Last week paediatricians warned children may experience “quite a big trauma” when returning, and that some may be anxious after 18 months of disrupted schooling.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Plans for national qualifications 2022 will be announced soon.”

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