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Commenting on today’s National and Higher results, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:

“Students, teachers and school leaders have worked extremely hard to secure this year’s results in the face of unique and hugely difficult circumstances. School staff deserve recognition of the huge pressures and additional workload they have faced in producing centre assessed grades and young people deserve praise for the tenacity they have shown in dealing with the huge uncertainties and anxieties of the last 18 months.

“The challenges of the awarding process this year were significantly exacerbated by the Government’s and SQA’s chaotic and disjointed handling of this year’s arrangements for the awarding of qualifications.

“Whilst schools have done a tremendous job in picking up the pieces caused by the failures of ministers and SQA, many teachers were left running on empty with teacher workload at breaking point at the end of last term. We cannot afford a repeat of this confusion and chaos for yet another year.

“In looking ahead to plans for qualifications in 2022 the NASUWT has made it clear to ministers and regulators that mitigations and contingency plans will still be needed. Such mitigations should include a slimmed down package of subject content to help reduce the pressures on pupils and teachers and reflect the impact of the disruption to their learning pupils have faced over the last 18 months.

“While the NASUWT has serious misgivings about the performance of the SQA, the Scottish Government’s decision to replace the regulator risks yet more uncertainty for students and teachers and will have a significant impact on the process of awarding qualifications in 2022.

“Given that the review instigated by ministers is not even due to begin until the start of the new academic year, the unanswered questions about the future of the regulator and wider education system threaten yet further problems next year.

“Teachers and pupils due to gain qualifications next summer cannot be the victims of uncertainty about the future direction of the education system.

“Work to review the shape and scope of the SQA and wider education system must not be at the expense of ensuring that schools are swiftly provided with information and support on arrangements for 2022.

“Teachers and young people need a system for next year’s qualifications which is realistic and responsive to the continuing challenge of the pandemic on students’ education.”

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