Scotland’s exams body has said it could extend the date for submitting teacher estimates in response to the move to online learning for at least the whole of January, announced last week.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority says in an update on its website that the National Qualifications 2021 Group – which, as well as the SQA, includes key education bodies such as the inspectorate, education directors and the teaching unions – is “working through a range of scenarios” and is “considering potential flexibilities for the alternative certification model, should they be needed”.
It adds that this “may include extending the date for submitting provisional results”.
The SQA also says that it plans to begin publishing subject-specific guidance on the evidence that teachers need to gather from their students to support their estimates for Higher and Advanced Higher from 18 to 29 January. However, it adds that the priority for schools and colleges this month “should be to maximise learning and teaching time” and that assessments can take place “in the later stages of the 2020-21 session”.
Coronavirus: Students 'need urgent reassurance over exams'
Teachers have been looking for more information on the kind of evidence the SQA will be looking for since the education secretary, John Swinney, announced in December that the Higher and Advanced higher exams would not be going ahead. The National 5 exams were cancelled in October.
However, in a letter to Mr Swinney, the children’s commissioner, Bruce Adamson, has warned that announcing more details about the system to replace the exams whilst schools are closed could pile pressure on students because it will be harder for schools to offer reassurance.
He wrote: “Pupils sitting National Qualifications this year need urgent reassurance about how their progress will be assessed. I have particular concerns for senior students who are still awaiting details on the alternative assessment approach to their qualifications.
“Hearing about the alternative to exams when at home and with limited access to support from teachers will create more stress at an already anxious time. Young people need reassurance that alternative assessment will be fair and take account of the interruptions they have experienced to their learning since March.”
Seamus Searson, the general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, said, in an article published by Tes Scotland earlier today, that the move to online learning posed “serious problems for collection of evidence to support teacher estimates".
He said it was time for the government to come up with a plan B and suggested it might have to move to a “straightforward teacher assessment” and the SQA accepting “a limited role” in determining this year's grades.