Swinney still wants to see exams run in full in 2021

Education secretary says that 'burden of assessments' before SQA exams could be reduced

Tes Reporter

Swinney still wants to see exams run in full in 2021

Education secretary John Swinney has reiterated that the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) plans to run a full exam diet in 2021.

He sent out that message in an online session with a national parents' body last night, and again on BBC Radio Scotland this morning. Assuming Covid-19 does not force any other changes, it appears the main difference to a normal year will be exams starting a few weeks later in 2021.

Exams in schools were cancelled this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The after-effects are still a source of huge concern for schools and colleges, as they await overdue guidance on how exams and courses will be run this year.

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In a question-and-answer session with the National Parent Forum of Scotland last night, Mr Swinney repeated his consistent message of the past few months several that the plan is to run a full set of exams in 2021.

He said: “Our objective is to run a full 2021 exam diet.

“SQA have consulted on what steps they could take to reduce the burden of assessments before the exam diet – what elements could be removed?

“We’ve also looked at the timetable of exams. Do they need to start [as usual] in late April? Could they start at the end of May, giving [students] an extra month for learning and teaching.

“We’ve looked at those [options] and the SQA is currently considering the response.”

Mr Swinney added that his main priority was fairness, saying: “I can’t foresee how much disruption there will be between now and next spring, either on individual, class or school-level.

“I am determined to ensure every student has fairness and a fair crack at the whip next year, no matter their experience.”

Mr Swinney also apologised again for the “stress and anxiety” caused by the moderated grades that were initially used to determine students results before a dramatic U-turn.

He said: “When it became apparent there were a number of unfair outcomes, I took the decision to direct the SQA to base exam results on the basis of teacher estimates, to recognise the challenges pupils faced.

“I recognise that it caused a lot of stress and anxiety on young people and I reiterate my apology for that. We didn’t want to cause that stress and for that, I unreservedly apologise.”

Mr Swinney made similar statements when interviewed today on BBC radio's Good Morning Scotland programme.

The SQA was due to publish confirmed changes to 2021 exams and assessment last week, but as of this morning, they had still not appeared.

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