EDUCATION Secretary John Swinney has warned businesses will have to play their part in schools re-opening in August – while teachers will be told to assess pupils throughout the school year in case the 2021 exams are axed. 

Mr Swinney has also moved to reassure parents who are “absolutely dreading” the blended learning model being introduced that they will not be expected to offer their children “a classroom experience”. 

Th Education Secretary had previously warned MSPs that he could not rule out next year’s exams being cancelled, as has been forced to happen this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He said: "Although we are planning for an exam diet I cannot say with absolute certainty that it will be able to take place. 

"So we are asking schools to gather evidence on an ongoing basis to support judgments that may be required to be made in the spring of 2021."

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Next year's school exams may be scrapped due to Covid-19 pandemic 

Schools are preparing to return on August 11 with a blended learning model – where children will spend part of their time physically in schools with social distancing measures and the rest at home. 

Mr Swinney said the aim is for children to spend 50 per cent of their time at school. 

He added: “There is, of course, the support for learning at home, which will be extensive and will be supported by teachers.  

“It’s going to be part-time learning in school, but there will be part-time learning at home as well to supplement that activity.” 

The Education Secretary said that businesses will need to play their role in being flexible in helping parents to remain at home if they need to supervise children who are learning. 

READ MORE: EIS union warns over support for 'severely traumatised' pupils returning to school in August

He said: “Although we are taking gradual steps to open up activity in our society, we will not be in the period when schools return in August, in a position where life in every respect has gone back to normal. 

“There will still be restrictions in place at that time – there will be restrictions on what people will be able to do.” 

He added: “There will be a need for the world of business and the world of education to work cooperatively together because one of them will not be operating at 100 per cent and the other at 50 per cent.  

“Our whole society is going to have to go through a gradual process of returning to the levels of activity we previously envisaged within our society.  

“There will be a very gradual, phased process that we are involved in to ensure that we do not do anything as a country that intensified activity to an extent that we refuel coronavirus, which would be a disastrous outcome.” 

READ MORE: Thousands of former teachers asked to help implement ‘blended’ schooling

SNP MSP Gail Ross asked Mr Swinney about parents’ role in the blended learning model, adding that “to be completely honest, a lot of parents are absolutely dreading it”. 

Mr Swinney stressed that parents will play a crucial role but will not be expected to take on the role of a full-time teacher. 

He said: “We have tried to take an approach in our headline messaging which has roughly been to say to parents to try to avoid thinking that they have got to essentially assume the role of teacher as part of this home learning model.  

“We have expressly encouraged parents not to think that they’ve got to create a classroom experience in their house and to essentially re-create what a young person would experience within the classroom on a daily basis, at home. 

“There is a certain amount of contribution that all parents can make to this process but it can’t fully replicate the full school experience.”