SQA to provide exam support from next month
The Scottish Qualifications Authority is to provide revision support for exams in a bid to help pupils whose learning has been disrupted by the pandemic.
Confirming the move, education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville told MSPs it was still the “firm intention” to hold exams in April to June.
But these support materials will only be made available to teachers from 7 March, just weeks before pupils are due to sit their first exams.
Both the Conservatives and Labour have questioned why this is not being provided sooner.
The SQA has said the decision reflects the “significant disruption to learning and teaching” in recent months.
The new package of support, which will differ depending on the subject, may include advance notice of exam content, study guides or allowing notes to be taken in the exam.
SQA chief executive Fiona Robertson said: “The substantial package of additional support SQA is announcing today is the fairest and best way we can help support all learners to demonstrate their level of knowledge, understanding and skills for each course, while also maintaining the integrity, credibility and standard of the qualifications.”
In addition, the Scottish Government will provide an additional £4m to support schools and colleges to provide exam preparation sessions over the Easter break.
Somerville said: “While the number of full and partial school closures has been small, it is clear that many secondary schools have experienced extreme disruption as a result of the Omicron variant – particularly in the first half of January – in relation to both student and teacher absences.
“This package of measures is designed to ensure our learners are fully supported in their learning and preparations for the exams this year.”
The SQA has also set out an alternative assessment model for learners unable to attend exams, for example if they have Covid-19 at the time, as well as the creation of a free and direct access to appeals.
It has also confirmed appeals will take a “no detriment” approach, meaning no student will risk being downgraded.
But Tory education spokesperson Meghan Gallacher said the announcements were “too little, too late.” She called for the support material to be made available before early March.
Labour’s education spokesperson Michael Marra welcomed the statement, particularly the change in the approach to appeals, but also questioned why support could not be provided for another month.