A Dundee schoolgirl’s petition calling for reconsideration of national qualification assessments is winning support around the country.
Deni McGurty, 16, says that final assessments for those whose exams have been cancelled are exams in all but name.
She has urged the Scottish Qualifications Authority and the Scottish Government to think again on the process which will determine her grades and those of tens of thousands of young people around Scotland.
The petition was launched on Thursday and by Sunday had more than 3,000 signatures.
‘Why not just call it an exam?’
In the petition the Baldragon Academy fifth year pupil calls final assessment a “mockery of the word” and says students will still sit exams in a classroom despite having less than five months in school to do their coursework – and even less for those asked to isolate because of coronavirus.
She says: “Why not just call it an exam?”
Deni, who plans to train as a midwife when she leaves school, is taking four Higher courses and told us that she and her peers are extremely worried about the assessments in May, which they have only just learned about.
She said: “We’ve been in school for under five months, that says it all. Some people are isolating and we’re still not back full-time.
“It’s such a short time for a full course.
“This has affected us so dearly and it’s a shame, this is our future.”
This has affected us so dearly and it’s a shame, this is our future.”
Deni McGurty, 16
Pupils, she said, would be ill-prepared for the assessments which she fears will carry more weight than their coursework.
“This final assessment to us is primarily our grade,” she said.
Deni says people with learning disabilities, like herself, will be hit particularly hard and told how she struggled with the loss of face-to-face teaching.
One signatory to the petition, Keith Campbell, wrote: “Students are being treated with contempt.
“First they are told final exams have been cancelled, then, with a month’s notice they are told they will sit a final assessment in a classroom (ie. an exam) without having been in school for most of the year.”
Final assessment ‘not in guidance’
However, the SQA stressed it had not used the term ‘final assessment’ in any of its guidance.
With exams cancelled for a second year for National 5, Higher and Advanced Highers due to the pandemic, the qualifications body has devised an alternative certification model which will see teachers submit grades based on coursework and assessments.
A spokesman said: “We have been clear that there is no requirement to simulate a full exam setting.
“A mixture of assessment approaches, including practical work and coursework, where appropriate, has been advised.
Throughout the creation of this year’s model, the views and impact on young people have been at the heart of our decision making.”
Scottish Qualifications Authority
“We have provided teachers and lecturers with detailed assessment guidance for every subject, which highlights the flexible approaches in which assessment can be carried out.
“Throughout the creation of this year’s model, the views and impact on young people have been at the heart of our decision making.
“The alternative certification model has been developed by the National Qualifications Group, which includes wide representation from the education system, including teachers and young people. The group has been clear that awards this year must be based on demonstrated attainment.”
In response to a parliamentary question last week, Education Secretary John Swinney said the SQA had reduced evidence requirements for each course.
He added: “Teachers will be using a holistic approach and a range of evidence to determine the provisional results. They also have the flexibility to assess learners at times and in ways that are appropriate to their needs.”