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Education secretary insists lessons have been learned after exams fiasco

Shirley-Anne Somerville believes this year's assessment system shows they have learned from last year.
Shirley-Anne Somerville believes this year's assessment system shows they have learned from last year.

The education secretary believes the new way of dealing with school assessments shows the Scottish Government have “attempted to learn lessons” during the pandemic.

For the second year running the traditional exams timetable was cancelled and grades are to be based on teacher judgments.

In 2020, bosses at the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) had to overturn more than 100,000 results after its moderation process that disproportionately impacted pupils from deprived backgrounds.

Earlier this week a major report called for the SQA to be scrapped and replaced with a specialist agency.

Young people can be assured we learned from that and they should be getting their provisional results this week.”

Shirley-Anne Somerville, education secretary

Shirley-Anne Somerville believes the changes to this year’s assessment system shows that ministers in Edinburgh have learned from 2020’s exams fallout.

‘Key lesson’ is using teacher’s grades to decide pupil’s marks

Ms Somerville said: “We’ve attempted to learn lessons as we have gone along.

“So for example, there were lessons we had to learn from last year’s exams. Those lessons were learned.

“There is a new system in place this year and it has been developed by the SQA with a range of stakeholders and very importantly including young people to determine the best way forward for alternative certification model.

“That is a key lesson that we learned to ensure so what happens this is that a young person’s attainment is decided by teachers.

“Young people can be assured we learned from that.”

Shirley-Anne Somerville was appointed education secretary last month.

Ms Somerville has also paid tribute to pupils, teachers and other school staff who have worked throughout the coronavirus crisis.

Schools were closed at the beginning of December and secondary schools did not fully reopen until after the Easter holidays in April.

Ms Somerville said: “Young people have gone through an exceptionally difficult couple of years beyond what many of us could imagine when we were young.

“I would pay tribute to their resilience and hard work as they have gone this process and to teachers and support staff who have guided them through this.

“None of this has been easy and many people will have been affected by it.”

‘Determined’ to help young people

Ms Somerville has also been reflecting on what she hopes to achieve while in post as the education secretary.

She replaced deputy first minister John Swinney last month following a cabinet reshuffle by first minister Nicola

Ms Somerville said helping school pupils is one of the “exciting” part of the job.

She said: “The exciting part of the job is the ability to support young people going forward.  I say that as a parent and as education secretary and that is something I am determined to move forward within my time in the post.

“I feel the responsibility of coming in at a time when we are trying to support pupils and teachers through Covid.”

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