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National 5 exams in Scotland cancelled in 2021

Written by on 7 October 2020

Students preparing to sit National 5s in Scotland next year have had their exams cancelled.

Highers and Advanced Highers will also be pushed back, starting on the later date of May 13, to let students who missed teaching time due to the coronavirus pandemic catch up.

But contingency plans will be developed for the cancellation of those exams as well, with “check points” in place up until February for a decision to be made.

The deputy first minister confirmed ‘there will be no algorithm’

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the Scottish Government “could not plan for business as usual” in next year’s exam timetable.

He told MSPs: “Due to the level of disruption already caused by COVID-19 and due to the likely disruption faced by some or all of our pupils and students this academic year, a full exam diet is simply too big a risk to take.”

The decision was based on recommendations from a review ordered in the wake of the exam results scandal, led by Professor Mark Priestley of Stirling University.

Mr Swinney said: “The alternative approach will be based on teacher judgment, supported by assessment resources and quality assurance.”

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Scotland's education secretary says the 124,564 results affected will revert to the grades estimated by the pupils' teachers.
Mr Swinney said he ‘could not plan for business as usual’

Between two and four pieces of work for every subject will be required from pupils, with Mr Swinney saying guidance from the Scottish Qualifications Authority will “emphasise quality, not quantity”.

He appeared to try to head off criticism the government could be heading for trouble, given the U-turn all four UK nations took to scrap students’ grades moderated by an algorithm over the summer.

“There will be no algorithm,” Mr Swinney confirmed. “Awards will be based on the progress of our young people and their work.”

Scottish Tory education spokesman Jamie Greene said he thought a full exam diet could still run next year, though he welcomed the fact a decision had been taken on the matter early.

He added: “I’m not convinced that full justification has been offered in today’s statement for the cancellation of National 5s.

“It does feel like the towel has been thrown in already.”

It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a new nationwide ban on selling alcohol indoors, with further restrictions for Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley.