The Scottish Qualifications Authority and Education Secretary John Swinney are “sleepwalking into a crisis” amid concerns about alternative assessments, Scottish Labour’s education spokesman has said.
Exams in Scotland have been cancelled as the Covid-19 pandemic forced pupils into extended periods of learning from home, but the alternative arrangements are being described by Labour as “exams in all but name”.
In a letter to Mr Swinney, Labour education spokesman Michael Marra urged greater clarity in the system, claiming there is inconsistency in this year’s process, a lack of planning and a lack of information about appeals.
He wrote: “One of the issues of greatest concern is the crammed exam diets that young people are being forced through, despite repeated assurances from yourself and other ministers that there are no exams.
“Media reports, social media and correspondence to myself clearly indicate the detrimental impact on wellbeing that these arrangements are having.
“A key aspect to this is the different approaches that are being taken school-to-school in lieu of any clarity or leadership from the Scottish Government or the SQA throughout this academic year.
“It is unacceptable that young people – and their teachers – are partaking in this process when there still remains no clarity surrounding the process of appeals that will be open to them.
“Lessons must be learned from last year’s unfair appeals process, where young people had no ability to have their teacher estimate scrutinised, even where they felt evidence existed.
“I am writing to urgently request clarity surrounding the appeals system this year, and for an urgent review to ensure it is a process that has equity and national consistency at its core.
“Young people in Scotland are right now sitting exams in all but name, they need clarity and certainty about the process they are undertaking.”
An SQA spokesman said: “The outcomes of the appeals consultation are currently being considered. We hope to announce details of the appeals process shortly.
“The National Qualifications Group has been clear that there is no requirement to replicate a full formal exam or prelim diet this year and that results need to be based on demonstrated attainment by assessment in a flexible way to suit local circumstances.
“SQA has provided a flexible and consistent framework for schools and colleges this year, including detailed guidance, material and support, based on assessment standards that teachers and lecturers are familiar with.”