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Commenting on the statement delivered by Deputy First Minister John Swinney to the Scottish Parliament today, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of NASUWT - The Teachers’ Union, said:

“It is essential that students and teachers are given clarity about the arrangements for examinations and qualifications in 2021 given the ongoing impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on schools and colleges.

“The Deputy First Minister should at least be acknowledged for seeking to set out how he expects the examinations and qualifications arrangements to be altered.

“However, as the Deputy First Minister’s statement attests, there are no easy answers or guarantees, given the continuing and very real risks of further disruption to education as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“The devil will be in the detail as to the implications of the Government’s decision to replace National 5 examinations with a system of teacher assessments and how the additional resource implications arising from the system of quality assurance and moderation envisaged will be addressed.

“It will be clear to teachers that there are very significant workload risks associated with today’s statement that will need to be addressed if precious teaching time is not to be diverted towards serving the requirements of a new quality assurance system.

“The Deputy First Minister will need to set out urgently how teachers will be supported throughout the remainder of the academic year to deliver the changes that are proposed.

“The decision to delay the commencement of Highers and Advanced Highers by two weeks may have a superficial attraction, but it will not provide meaningful additional time for students whose preparation for examinations has already been disrupted over a number of months.

“Given the differing incidence of Coronavirus transmission rates across Scotland, it is important to ensure fairness for all students, irrespective of where they live.”

Jane Peckham, NASUWT National Official Scotland said:

“The Deputy First Minister has recognised that levels of Coronavirus transmission remain high and that there is a very real prospect of disruption to education for the remainder of this year.

“The structure and content of Highers and Advanced Highers must also be considered to ensure fairness for those students whose education has already been disrupted whilst also recognising the potential for further disruption that some students are likely to face before they take these exams.

“Reducing content in examinations and enabling greater scope for students to answer optional questions should now be urgently considered as part of the Government’s contingency planning.

“It is also essential that teachers and their representatives are consulted fully and from the outset as part of the Contingency Planning arrangements confirmed today by the Deputy First Minister.”


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