SCOTTISH pupils should have their school day extended to catch up on lessons missed during the lockdown, experts have suggested.

The £200 million proposal by Reform Scotland have been drawn up as teaching unions criticised confirmation from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) that this year’s exam results could be moderated without the input from teachers.

The Commission on School Reform has called for an extra six hours of teaching to be rolled out during the school week, with pupils staying later into the afternoon for the next two years.

A report by the group, which is made up of current and former headteachers, politicians and education professors and chaired by former director of education in Clackmannanshire, Keir Bloomer, warns that "there is an urgent need to plan for catch-up of the lessons lost".

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Amid concerns that Scottish children will have missed lessons for around five months by the time schools re-open their doors in August, the Reform Scotland think-tank believe the plans are “feasible” to help youngsters catch up on their education.

The report highlights that the plan would cost around £200 million over the next two years, based on "very crude" estimates of paying teachers the equivalent for an extra day of work per week.

The report suggests an estimated 19,000 additional staff would be needed to oversee the catch-up sessions, which could be made up of retired and trainee teachers, plus university students from other disciplines.

The report warns that “pupils will have gone 21 weeks without proper schooling”, adding that “inequality will have worsened”.

It adds: "The costs of doing all this are not inordinate. The main extra ingredient that is now required is leadership."

Professor Lindsay Paterson, professor of education policy at Edinburgh University and a member of the commission, added: "The start of the new academic year in August is not only about returning children to school – it must be about ensuring that they catch up on the education which has been lost during lockdown.

"While estimates of the loss vary, there is no debate that it exists, and is particularly prevalent amongst the most disadvantaged.

"Catching up will be difficult and expensive, but not to the degree that it cannot and should not be done. "£100 million a year is a huge amount of money, but it will be dwarfed by the personal, social and economic cost of the loss of education during lockdown."

But union leaders have warned that “teachers will be justifiably angry” after the SQA admitted it will adjust student’s grades after this year’s exams diet was cancelled, without consulting schools or publishing its methods.

In a letter to Holyrood’s Education Committee, SQA chief Fiona Roberston confirmed that the agency will moderate grades without any consultation with teachers.

She warned that “it will not be possible to include engagement with schools and colleges within the moderation process”.

Last month, MSPs first raised concerns about teachers facing a mountain of appeals days before schools re-open are set to re-open in August.

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Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS union, stressed that “the professional judgement of teachers should have primacy over statistical modelling in determining students’ grades”.

He added: “Frankly, if the SQA overturns teacher estimates on any scale, it will invoke a tidal wave of appeals and risk undermining confidence in the accreditation system.”

Jane Peckham, the NASUWT union’s national official for Scotland, added: “From the start of this process the NASUWT has pressed for the SQA to publish the details of any equality impact assessment, particularly in respect of the extent to which equalities issues were taken into effective consideration throughout the design and implementation of the moderation process for 2019/20.

“It is very difficult to understand how decisions are being taken in the absence of any completed equality assessment. This remains to be addressed and only serves to further undermine teachers’ confidence in the process.”