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Plans for Higher Exams to Go Ahead and National 5 Exams Replaced

Yesterday, the Deputy First Minister made a statement to the Scottish Parliament about how SQA qualifications at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher will be awarded for Session 2020/2021.

The statement followed consultation with key stakeholders and takes account of the risk of COVID-19 causing further disruption to learning over the next year.

Key decisions:

  • The exam diet for all National 5 courses will be cancelled. Awards will now be based on teacher judgements supported by internal assessment of coursework. Quality assurance measures will be put in place to maintain standards and the integrity of the awards.
  • The exam diet for Highers and Advanced Higher will continue as planned, although the first exam will not take place until 13 May 2021 - two weeks later than originally planned to allow for extra teaching time. Contingency arrangements will be in place if necessary.

The SQA has already started to consider amendments to course content and assessment and will work closely with the local authority and schools to provide the best possible support and advice on the next steps.

Councillor Jeff Leaver, Chair of the Education and Learning committee, said:

I welcome this early decision on National 5s that provides clarity for young people who have been facing increasing uncertainty due to the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19. We now await further guidance on what is required to deliver a fair and transparent certification process for 2021. We'll work with education authority colleagues across Scotland to make sure that our pupils and staff in Dumfries and Galloway have the best possible support and advice.

Councillor Ros Surtees, vice chair, said:

Education opens doors to opportunities that enable young people to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens, and effective contributors to society. So, it's vital that our students are clear on what they need to do to achieve the best that they are capable of in light of the unprecedented challenges to their education presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.