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Controversial exam assessments to be scrapped over workload concerns

Scottish teaching union says the move to scrap unit assessments at National 5 and Higher is a victory for 'common sense'

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Scottish teaching union says the move to scrap unit assessments at National 5 and Higher is a victory for 'common sense'

Controversial assessments associated with school qualifications -  criticised by both teachers and parents - will be scrapped, the education secretary has announced.

John Swinney told the Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow today that the mandatory unit assessments at National 5 and Higher would be axed in 2017-18 and 2018-19 respectively.

He said the government was taking action in response to teachers’ concerns over workload but also parents’ concerns about the strain excessive assessment in the upper secondary was placing on their children.

Parents at Shawlands Academy in Glasgow had told Mr Swinney the burden of assessment in the senior phase was “undermining” the wellbeing of their children, he revealed.

However, teachers and pupils will have to endure another year of unit assessments before the changes kick in.

Responding to questions from TESS about the delay, Mr Swinney said he was confident teachers would understand and that the government had to take “due care” in ensuring the certification  process remained “robust”.

Earlier, responding to questions from teachers following his keynote address, Mr Swinney said that he planned to make the changes in an “orderly and organised fashion”.

The skills tested in unit assessments would now be covered in the course assessment, he said.

In response to Mr Swinney’s announcement, the EIS teaching union said it would now consider suspending its programme of industrial action.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the announcement was a victory both for “common sense and for that campaign of action”.

He said: “This is a proposal which the EIS put to the Scottish government as a way forward and clearly we welcome the agreement which has now been reached within the Qualification Review Group.”

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