INVESTIGATION: Pupils sitting ‘exams in disguise’ accuse SQA of ‘shambolic’ mismanagement

By Investigative reporters James McEnaney and Karin Goodwin

Many pupils, who started sitting exam papers last week, said they felt let down and “unfairly disadvantaged” by the lack of notice given.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney cancelled formal exams in December. But the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) led plans for an “alternative assessment model”, announced in March and described at the time by pupils, parents and opposition politicians as “exams by another name”.

As a result, young people have been sitting multiple class tests and prelim assessments, and now National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher papers, since return to school after the Easter holidays.

Some told The Ferret they had been left without support or time given to prepare for multiple assessments papers – being set instead of one exam but usually sat under exam conditions within class time.

The assessments, along with graded work throughout the year, will count towards final grades, given by their teachers and cross-marked for consistency.

The SQA insists there is no requirement to “replicate a full formal exam or prelim diet” but assessment must this year be based on “demonstrated attainment”.

This is in contrast to the system in place last year when teachers were advised to take students’ circumstances into account when giving grades.

Teachers have been provided with two additional in-service days and £400 to do the additional marking. The Ferret reported that this could see teachers working for less than the minimum wage.

  • The full report is on The Ferret website.

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