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Exams in Scotland are to be adjusted or cancelled in 2021, the Education Secretary has announced.

The biggest announcement has seen National 5 exams cancelled and replaced with teacher assessments and coursework.

John Swinney said it was likely students would face disruption and that the Covid-19 pandemic was “too big a risk“.

Here is what you need to know.

Exams in Scotland: National 5 exams cancelled

Mr Swinney said that National 5 qualifications would be judged on “teacher judgement supported by assessment.”

With restrictions increasing in Scotland this week, the Education Secretary said “an alternative approach” was needed, citing that students were likely to face further disruption.

Scotland’s school exams were cancelled for first time ever in 2020, due to lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Mark Priestly recommended the new approach to National 5 exams and the development of a new approach to assessments, and this was accepted by ministers.

Results will be moderated to “maintain standards”, but Mr Swinney stressed that “awards will not be given or taken away on the basis of a statistical model or on the basis of a school’s past performance.”

What about higher exams?

The Scottish Government has announced that higher and advanced higher exams will go ahead as usual.

However, these will start on 13 May, which is two weeks later than planned – this allows for extra time for catch up learning.

Why have the Government changed exams in Scotland?

Pupils and parents had been calling for clarity about what would happen with 2021 exams since the start of term.

“Preparing for normality” next summer risked last-minute changes close to exam time.

The decision to remove final exams for National 5 students (generally students aged 15-16), means teachers and pupils can now prepare for continuous assessment throughout the year instead. There will then be a greater amount of space for Higher and Advanced Higher exams to take place as normal.

The Education Secretary said:

The risk remains that there may be further disruptions for individual pupils, schools, or more widely across the country during the course of this academic year.

Due to the level of disruption already caused by Covid, and due to the likely disruption faced by some or all of pupils and students this academic year, a full exam diet is simply too big a risk – it would not be fair.

He added that a “contingency plan” was in place should Highers and Advanced Highers need to be called off, which could see grades again being awarded on teacher judgement.

How EDClass can help

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