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Commenting on the evidence given today by the Deputy First Minster to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee on the work of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) during the COVID-19 outbreak, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of The NASUWT-The Teacher’s Union, said:

“The SQA is faced with a range of significant challenges in implementing arrangements for certification this summer. The NASUWT does not understate the scale and complexity of this task in any way.

“It is entirely right that, notwithstanding the difficulties the COVID-19 outbreak has undoubtedly created, the SQA and the Scottish Government have sought to implement an approach to certification that ensures fairness to all learners, the safe and secure certification of qualifications and that the integrity and credibility of the qualifications system is maintained. The NASUWT will continue to work constructively with all relevant stakeholders to this end.

“However, teachers and leaders across the country continue to express concern that while they understand that arrangements will need to be different this year, they remain unclear about the reasons for some of these arrangements and how critical matters of importance will be addressed.

“In particular, they remain unclear about the methodology that the SQA will adopt to ensure the fair and consistent awarding of grades, why they are required to submit rankings of estimated performance, how any potential bias will be addressed and arrangements for candidates to appeal their grades. It is also difficult to understand how decisions are being taken in the absence of an Equality Impact Assessment.

“It will be essential for the SQA to share its developing thinking in these important areas and to take the teaching profession into its confidence as its plans in these respects begin to take shape”.

Jane Peckham, NASUWT National Official Scotland, said:

“Teachers and leaders across the country are rightly concerned to ensure that the best possible arrangements for certification are put in place. They stand prepared to play their part in ensuring that certification is fair to all learners and ensures that young people get the qualifications they need and deserve.

“The SQA’s prospects of reaching the best possible arrangements for certification will be enhanced, not hindered, if it consults widely with the teaching profession, is open about the difficult choices that lie ahead and makes the fullest possible use of the experience and expertise of classroom practitioners in its decision-making.”

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