JOHN Swinney has been urged to “correct immediately” his decision to only cancel next year’s National 5 exams after the Welsh Government announced all examinations in 2021 will be axed.

Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams has announced that GCSE, AS-level and A-level exams will be replaced by coursework and assessments amid ongoing disruption to schools caused by the coronavirus.

Ms Williams said the ongoing pandemic made it “impossible to guarantee a level playing field for exams to take place” and the decision “removes pressures from learners”.

Mr Swinney, both the Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary, previously announced that Scotland’s Highers and Advanced Highers are currently due to go ahead as things stand – after next year’s National 5s were cancelled due to the pandemic.

The Scottish Greens have now called on Mr Swinney to follow Wales’ decision. The party wants the Scottish Government to base 2021 grades on assessment made by teachers throughout the year.

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Scottish Greens education spokesperson, Ross Greer, said: “The Welsh Government has taken the only responsible approach by cancelling all 2021 exams. It’s not fair to ask pupils who have missed weeks of class time to sit an exam next May on the same basis as those who have been fortunate enough to avoid any disruption.

“The Scottish Government has so far opted for a bizarre halfway house by cancelling Nat 5 exams but pressing ahead with Highers and Advanced Highers. It’s becoming increasing clear that this is a mistake which John Swinney should correct immediately.”

He added: “The only reliable solution is to cancel the 2021 exams now and grade Highers and Advanced Highers on the same basis as National 5s. Assessment based on work throughout the year can take into account whether a pupil has missed substantial periods of time due to self-isolation and removes entirely the risk of exams being cancelled at the last minute, as they were this year.

“The Scottish Greens worked hard to secure a fix to this year’s grading debacle, restoring 124,565 grades lowered by the SQA. We’d prefer to avoid the need to fix another mess next August."

But grassroots Facebook parent group, UsForThem Scotland, said Mr Swinney should stick to his guns and offer assurances that exams for S5 and S6 students will still go ahead.

Jo Bisset, organiser for UsForThem Scotland, said: “Parents know that governments across the UK look to each other and often replicate decisions during this pandemic.

“But the Scottish Government should resist the temptation to follow Wales in cancelling exams outright.

“It’s bad enough that tens of thousands of National 5 pupils will miss out on exams without jeopardising the prospects of others too.

“We’d like to see the education secretary stand up and pledge to parents that Highers and Advanced Highers will definitely go ahead.

“We also believe teachers – without whom schools wouldn’t be able to function during this crisis – should be among the first to be offered a vaccine as and when it becomes available.”