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by Louise Wilson
11 August 2021
Decision on 2022 exams due in 'next few days'

David Anderson/Holyrood

Decision on 2022 exams due in 'next few days'

A decision on whether pupils will sit exams in the next academic year will be made “in the next few days”, the education secretary has said.

Shirley-Anne Somerville said she hoped to make an announcement before the majority of Scotland’s schools go back next week.

Some pupils have returned from their summer break today.

The education secretary told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland: “One of the considerations that I’ve been looking at over the summer, for example, is can we make changes to the self-isolation to ensure schooling might not be as disrupted as it has been in the past.

“And if we can do that, which we have, well does that mean we’ll be able to return to a little bit more of normality within that?

“I’m still looking at the final advice that’s coming up on that and I’ll be making an announcement soon. I will want to be able to do that before the rest of the schools go back next week.”

For the last two years, formal exams have been cancelled due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Grades were instead awarded using an Alternative Certification Model set out by the SQA, largely based on teacher assessment.

Yesterday’s results saw pupils achieve a record number of As but the overall pass rate was down.

Meanwhile, the attainment gap between the richest and poorest pupils increased.

An OECD review of the assessment system in Scotland is due to be published at the end of this month, which is expected to provide options for improvement.

A previous review also led the Scottish Government to announce plans to “replace” the SQA.

But Somerville confirmed these changes would “take time” and therefore will not be made for the coming year.

She added: “We’ve worked exceptionally quickly and at pace over the last couple of years to put in, in effect, emergency measures, and we’ve got a lot to learn about how well those have worked and the lessons we can improve from.

“We do need to look at change within our system, it may not be the same in the future. But that will take us some time as we work with parents, with carers and with students and teachers to be able to develop that.”

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