Scottish school exams set to be held again in 2021, says education secretary

As reported by BBC news, in a Q&A with the National Parent Forum of Scotland, education secretary John Swinney announced that current plans were to hold a full exam diet in 2021

Teacher predictions were moderated by the SQA, resulting in a methodology that disproportionately affected pupils from deprived backgrounds.

A week after results were sent out, Swinney announced that grades would revert back to original teacher predictions. As a result of the changes, the National 5 pass rate was 88.9%, the Higher pass rate was 89.2% and the Advanced Higher pass rate was 93.1% – up from 78.2%, 74.8% and 79.4% respectively in 2019. Compared with the moderated results, these increased by 7.8, 10.3 and 5.5 percentage points respectively.

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.”

Swinney also apologised again for the “stress and anxiety” caused by the moderated grades. 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.” 

The SSTA teaching union has already called for next year’s exam diet to be cancelled. And the largest teaching union, the EIS, has previously argued that some students should not sit exams next year – such as S4 students who intended to continue with a subject in S5.

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