Senior pupils could be prioritised for return to school

Pupils in exam years could return to school first to allow teachers to collect the evidence they need for grading, says SQA boss

Emma Seith

Senior pupils could be prioritised for return to school

The chief executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has acknowledged that gathering evidence to support teacher estimated grades is “more challenging”, given the national lockdown and move to online learning for the majority of pupils.

Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee today, Fiona Robertson said the National Qualifications 2021 Group was working through “a range of scenarios”, including what could happen if remote learning continues “for a long time”.

Some of the scenarios being considered by the group – which, as well as the SQA, includes education directors, inspectors and the EIS teaching union – were for pupils in the exam years to be prioritised for the return to “in-class teaching” or that they could come back to school for “assessment purposes”.

“These are all things in the mix,” she said.

Background: Scotland's 2021 exams cancelled by education secretary

News: Teachers could get more time to submit estimates

Related: Call for government to rethink exam replacement plans

Ms Robertson also acknowledged that “some aspects” of more practical courses, such as PE, drama and woodwork, would have to be looked at, given “presence in school” is particularly important for these subjects.

“Some aspects of those courses we do need to look at again and we will do that with pace,” she said.

When it came to the SQA’s role in quality-assuring teacher judgements, Ms Robertson said that the SQA would not be “pitching up with our briefcases” at schools, but she did say that the plan was to sample work from every school in Scotland.

She added that the dates for gathering that evidence would likely now be pushed back, given the process was scheduled to start this month.

Earlier this week, the general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) called for a move to a “straightforward” teacher judgement when it came to grading senior pupils. He argued that, in lockdown, teachers could not gather the two to four pieces of evidence they were being asked for to back up their judgements.

In an update published yesterday, the National Qualifications 2021 Group said that teachers could be given more time to submit their estimates.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for TES Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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