Covid-related changes to exams and assessments for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses will remain in place for another school year, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has confirmed.

Modifications were introduced at the beginning of the 2020/21 academic session to reflect disruption caused by the pandemic and ease the workload of pupils and teachers. They remained in place during 2021/22.

Course-specific changes included removing an exam or item of coursework, reducing elements of an exam and/or coursework, removing one or more topics or sub-topics from an exam, and providing advance notice of content that will or will not be directly assessed.  

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SQA bosses said their decision to continue with the changes was based on the views of learners, teachers, lecturers, parents, carers and the authority’s advisory council.

The 2022 exam diet – the first since 2019 – got under way earlier this week.

Fiona Robertson, SQA chief executive and Scotland’s chief examiner, said: “We recognise the ongoing disruption to teaching and learning that young people across Scotland have experienced since the start of the pandemic.

“After careful consideration, and having reflected on the feedback we received, we can confirm that the current modifications to assessment will remain in place for 2022-23. The effects of the disruption will not go away after the summer break.

“Carrying the assessment modifications forward into the new academic year will help to provide some certainty for learners, teachers and lecturers and help free up more time for learning and teaching of the course content, while maintaining the integrity and credibility of their qualifications.”

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Modifications announced in 2020/21 covered National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher, as well as some National 3 and 4 courses.

The SQA has also said current alternative assessment approaches to its Higher National and Vocational Qualifications (HNVQ) will continue for 2022/23.

It added that it was working with partners on the national qualifications steering group to determine arrangements that will be in place during the coming academic session.

Oliver Mundell, of the Scottish Conservatives, said the SQA's announcement would be a source of "serious" concern.

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He added: “Their shambolic handling of assessments left our poorer pupils hugely disadvantaged and rightly led to plans to finally scrap the SQA going forward.

“Our education system should now be looking beyond the pandemic so questions must be asked as to why these plans will be in place for yet another year.

“The SNP missed a major opportunity to reform our education system when they announced plans to scrap the SQA, which summed up their 15 years in charge of Scotland’s schools.

“This sort of move will hardly inspire confidence that the SQA are shaping up to take a backseat when it comes to determining our pupils' future.”