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Schools told to prepare for potential cancellation of 2021 exams

Exams could be cancelled again in 2021.

Teachers have been asked to prepare for exams being cancelled next year by ensuring they have evidence of pupils’ performance.

When exams were cancelled this year due to the pandemic, teachers were asked to provide the Scottish Qualifications Authority with estimates of grades for each candidate.

Although the 2021 exams are scheduled to go ahead, starting April 26, there are worries they may once more be called off or the diet reduced.

Gathering evidence

Dundee City Council has already asked schools to begin gathering evidence of assessed coursework, to be relied upon in lieu of the tests for National 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers.

Other education departments in Fife, Angus, and Perth and Kinross are also preparing for a second cancellation.

Anticipating potential disruption from continuing coronavirus restrictions, the SQA has developed a number of contingency models which could be used if there are no exams next year.

It came under fire for its moderation of this year’s grades submitted by teachers, which saw thousands of pupils given lower grades, with those in more deprived areas worst affected.

Dundee Liberal Democrat councillor Craig Duncan, sought assurance at a meeting of the city council’s children’s and families services committee sought, stating: “We certainly don’t want a repeat of recent events nationally.”

We certainly don’t want a repeat of recent events nationally.”

Councillor Craig Duncan

Chief education officer Audrey May said that although exams were planned next year, there remained no certainty that they would go ahead.

She said: “We are asking our schools to gather as much evidence of assessment for our young people right from the start of this year – as much as we can, so that if we find ourselves, hopefully not, in a similar situation we would have really robust evidence of young people’s assessment.”

As a result of the SQA results furore, Fife Council agreed to established a short life working group to look at the lessons learned and how to gather evidence for the 2020/21 academic year.

Mitigate lockdowns

The group will also consider procedures for responding to future awarding issues due to the pandemic.

Maria Lloyd, head of service for secondary schools, said: “This would mean schools will be collecting evidence as they work through the year to mitigate for any local lockdowns or cancellation of exams.”

A Perth and Kinross Council spokeswoman said: “We want our children and young people to achieve to their fullest academically and personally in school.

“Collection and analysis of a range of assessment evidence is an integral part of the learning and teaching process.

“As such, teachers and school leaders are taking account of relevant guidance, of when, how and what is assessed.”

An Angus Council spokesperson said: “SQA are currently in a consultation process to gather feedback on modifications to course assessments.

“In the meantime schools in Angus will continue to gather assessment evidence in the usual ongoing ways.”

The SQA is yet to publish the results of its consultation on its contingency plans.

Confirmed modifications to the 2021 exam timetable were due be published last week.

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