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Scottish pupil assessment ‘change’ is coming but may take ‘some time’

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has signalled that a new system could be created for pupil assessments in schools – but she said it would take “some time” to develop.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme, the SNP minister suggested “change” was on the way, however it would not be in place for the coming academic year.

Ms Somerville confirmed that an announcement would be made in the “next few days” about the Scottish Government’s plans for next year.

The Scottish Government and Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) were heavily criticised for their handling of examinations during the pandemic, with the SQA to be scrapped and replaced with a new agency as a result.

With traditional exams cancelled for two years, a teacher-led “alternative certification model” was used last year, with results confirmed on Tuesday.

Ms Somerville said an announcement about next year was imminent.

“I’ll be making an announcement within the next few days about what will be happening with assessments for next year,” she told the BBC.

“One of the considerations that I have been looking at over the summer, for example, is can we make changes to the self-isolation to ensure that schooling might not be as disrupted as it has been in the past.

“And if we can do that, which we have, what does that mean? That we’ll be able to return to a little bit more of a normality within that.

“I am still looking at the final advice that is coming up on that – and I’ll be making an announcement soon.

“But I will want to be able to do that before the rest of the schools go back next week.”

The Dunfermline MSP was asked whether the model used this year could provide a “template” for the future.

I do think we need to look at change within our system, it may not be the same in the future, but that will take us some time as we work, understandably with parents, with carers, and with students and teachers, to be able to develop that.”

Ms Somerville signalled that a new model would be developed over time.

“We also have a report that is coming out from the OECD at the end of August that will give us some options around assessments,” she said.

“But I think we need to be very careful around the timing of this.

“We can’t make up an entirely new system for the next academic year again, based on, for example, what the OECD might give us and some of the options – these things take time.

“Now, we’ve worked exceptionally quickly and at pace over the last couple of years to put in, in effect, emergency measures.

“And we’ve got a lot to learn about how well those have worked, and the lessons we can improve from that.

“And I do think we need to look at change within our system, it may not be the same in the future, but that will take us some time as we work, understandably with parents, with carers, and with students and teachers, to be able to develop that.

“But I will make a decision on what will happen in the next academic year very, very soon, and we will make sure that teachers, and importantly pupils, know what they will be doing next year, within the next few days.”

 

 

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