The parent of a senior pupil is worried about the potential return of traditional exams next year – because his daughter has never sat one.
The Scottish Government announced that the National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams will be back next year if public health advice allows it.
For the last two years exams have been cancelled due to the pandemic with pupils assessed on work from during the year.
If there continues to be interruptions to learning due to coronavirus but exams are able to go ahead, then “further modifications” will be made to courses and assessment.
But if exams are not able to go ahead, results will be based on teacher judgments – similar to this year.
‘Uncertainty’ fears raised for generation of pupils who have never had exams
Gareth Bristo’s daughter is about to go into sixth year at a secondary school in Aberdeen. The teen, who didn’t want to be named, has never actually had a school exam.
The 43-year-old from Bridge of Don admits he is worried about the re-introduction of exams.
He says he likes the way assessments were carried out this year with teachers deciding marks.
Mr Bristo said: “I just think it creates a bit of uncertainty because my daughter is about to go into sixth-year and has never actually sat an exam.
“I still think the way they did the exams this year was good because there was constant communication with teachers.
“Exams are a test but not everybody likes that pressure. When you’ve got an exam it is a one-shot thing.
“But this year there was a lot of engagement with teachers. Pupils knew where they going because marks were based on the work they were doing.”
Highland education union boss backs move
Meanwhile, a north teaching union chief has welcomed the potential return of traditional exams in 2022.
Alistair Bell, EIS Highland secretary, said the move would ease the “excessive workload burden” on teachers last year.
He also welcomed have two contingency plans in place is a “sensible” move for ministers to take.
Mr Bell said: “We were expecting exams to return, and this would certainly remove what was an excessive workload burden on schools brought about by the alternative certification model (ACM).
“It is good to note that course content and assessment is to be modified and we would seek early communication to schools of any matters related to this, given that last year saw consternation over repeated late notification of information by SQA.”
Mr Bell called for more detail from the SQA within the first few weeks of term.
“We welcome the premise that these modifications are such that volume of assessment and the associated workload is reduced.
“Contingency plans have been listed and appear clear. Having two back-ups would appear sensible.
“We would further note that in the event of no exams being possible, then certification will be based wholly upon “normal in-year assessment” and we would hope that this is not seen as an opportunity to increase formal assessment throughout the year.”
Exams return is ‘no surprise’ for national teaching union chief
Larry Flanagan, EIS general secretary, said the decision is “no surprise”.
He wanted fourth-year pupils not to face exams at all next spring. He also hopes “appropriate and robust contingencies” can be brought in if the exams are cancelled.
Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, wants more details about the plans. He said it was “welcome” to have some details now emerging.
He said: “Whatever arrangements are adopted for qualifications in 2022 they must ensure fairness for students, reflect the level of disruption they have experienced to their education.”
Dr Roach added teachers must not have a repeat of the “unacceptable and avoidable workload pressures” of last year.
Campaigner welcome return of exams
Jo Bisset, organiser for UFTScotland, has welcomed the return of exams. However, she feels the assessments in 2020 and 2021 should not have been cancelled.
She added: “There may well be a wider debate to be had about whether or not examination in its current form is the best way to assess children.
“But that must be a thorough, evidence-based debate, and not one rushed through using the pandemic as an excuse.”