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Teacher Assessment to Replace Higher and Advanced Higher Exams

Higher and Advanced Higher students will receive grades in 2021 based on teacher judgment of their attainment.

This news from the Scottish Government has been welcomed by many. It recognises the disruption to education nationally due to public health measures to limit the spread of Covid19.

The assessment model will be similar to that already agreed for National 5 students.

Orkney Constituency MSP Liam McArthur, LibDem said:

“While I understand that some will be disappointed by this decision, I believe that, on balance, it’s the correct one given the severe levels of disruption that many students have experienced and continue to experience in relation to their schooling this year. 

“Going ahead with a full exam programme as normal in such circumstances simply wouldn’t be fair, and I’m pleased that students, parents and teachers have been given some degree of clarity.  We now need the specific details of the new arrangements to be made available as soon as possible so that teachers and pupils know what will be expected of them.

“We also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there remains a serious risk that young people could fall behind in their studies this year.  It’s therefore critically important that additional catch-up support is offered to those who need it.  No pupil should see their educational experience or academic potential suffer as a result of a situation wholly outside of their control.”

Orkney has had the fewest number of reported cases of Covid19 in Scotland, however, some individual pupils and students may have been more affected than others. Basing the gradings on teacher judgements is an equality issue – and it does give a better assessment of individual performance than a one off exam.

Teachers and lecturers will also get an exceptional one-off payment for assessing and marking National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses this year. This is to recognise their additional workload of assessing national qualifications.

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister of Scotland said:

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“In October, I said Highers and Advanced Highers would go ahead if it was safe and fair to do so. Since then, many pupils have suffered disruption because of COVID, as they were obliged to self-isolate or even saw their school closed. The level of disruption has, however, not been the same across the board – pupils in deprived areas have been hit hardest.

“While we hope that public health will improve in the coming months with the roll-out of the vaccine, we cannot guarantee that there will be no further disruption to pupils’ learning.

“Holding exams would run the risk of translating the unequal impact of COVID into unfair results for our poorest pupils, leading to their futures being blighted through no fault of their own. That is simply not fair.”

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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