Scotland's largest teaching union has urged national leaders to look at developing a more "equitable" examination system amid concern about high-pressure pupil assessments in the current school term.

The remarks from the EIS come after Education Secretary John Swinney signalled to an election hustings that he was very much open to persuasion on the merits of moving away from traditional end-of-year tests.

Mr Swinney, who is also Deputy First Minister, told teachers: "There's very clearly a range of valid alternative approaches to exit exams and I would say that's a discussion and a debate that we have to have as a society in terms of the right approach to exams for exit purposes.

"I am very sympathetic to more being reflected in... ongoing assessment but that's a wider discussion we have to have as an education system." 

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon told high school exams 'out of date and in need of reform'

Pupils are preparing for what is expected to be an intense and stressful period as teachers gather final evidence for provisional results they will submit under this year's alternative certification model.

It is feared the process will mean many facing prelim-style "diets" with reduced preparation time.

National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams were cancelled due to the impact of Covid-19.

HeraldScotland: EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan.EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan.

Larry Flanagan, EIS General Secretary, said the “current high stakes end-of-year examination system" was "far from being the only way to accredit student learning".

Arguing that its limitations had been revealed by the pandemic, he added: "Last year’s flawed SQA algorithm exposed the in-built bias against students from poorer backgrounds of quota-based passes and grades.

"The EIS believes we need to look at a more equitable system, with teacher professional judgement at its heart and one which looks at exit qualifications so that teaching and learning time is maximised.”

READ MORE: John Swinney 'sympathetic' to more ongoing assessment

Last year, Nicola Sturgeon was told by her International Council of Education Advisers that school exams are “out of date” and should be replaced with a system that could allow pupils to sit and resit them like driving tests.

In a major report, the experts also said current arrangements could be reformed in favour of a "greater role for internal assessment in determining qualifications that better match the knowledge and skills demanded by wider social and economic change".

Secondary exams, their analysis states, are "essentially an out-of-date 19th and 20th century technology operating in a 21st century environment of teaching and learning".

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The report adds: "There may still be components of sit-down examinations, but if these are based on a wide menu of changing, problem-based questions, these can be taken and re-taken like driving tests, as needed, throughout the year, rather than in a one-time, high-stress, win/lose moment.

"At least one state in the US is transferring its budget from standardised testing to formative assessment. California has also now abandoned standard achievement tests as a basis for university selection."