Coronavirus: SQA says pupils do not have to submit coursework to pass exams

School pupils and college students do not have to submit coursework to pass their exams, Scotland’s qualifications body has announced.

John Swinney announced that exams were cancelled last week.
John Swinney announced that exams were cancelled last week.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority has said coursework for Highers, Advanced Highers and National 5s will not be required to ensure young people pass their exams while schools are closed during the coronavirus lockdown.

Instead examination passes will be based on teachers’ grade estimations and prelim exam results.

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The news comes a week after Education Secretary John Swinney announced that for the first time in 132 years there would be no Scottish exams sat by students.

Fiona Robertson, SQA chief executive and Scotland’s chief examiner, said following the announcement of school closures and the ruling out of pupils attending school to complete coursework for examination, it had been decided that for this year, schools and colleges would not have to submit coursework for marking.

She said: "Following the announcement by the First Minister on Sunday, that no young person with SQA coursework to complete should attend school to do so, we continue to work hard on how we should take coursework evidence into account, in determining young people’s final grades.

"Everyone here at SQA will do their utmost, given the current situation, and with the support of the education system, to ensure that learners’ hard work is rightly and fairly recognised and allows them to proceed to further learning or work.

"The current public health advice has meant that we have had to make some really difficult decisions about coursework. This means that for this year, schools and colleges are not required to submit learner coursework for marking, in Higher and Advanced Higher courses."

She said the decision had been taken “to be as fair as possible to all Higher and Advanced Higher candidates” and that if pupils had already completed coursework it could still be used “as part of the suite of evidence for teachers and lecturers to draw on as they consider estimated grades.”

On National 5s she said the SQA had already received some coursework, and this would still be marked, but work which was “due to be uplifted in April and May, will not be submitted."

However Scottish Greens education spokesperson Ross Greer said the SQA statement left questions unanswered. “How will those who’ve already submitted coursework and those who’ve not, be treated equally? What will the criteria for teacher judgements of estimated grades be? Will there be a robust appeals system for young people who don’t get the grade they expected?”

He said he was collating questions from parents to send to John Swinney. “This is a fast moving situation but I’m hopeful for a prompt reply from Mr Swinney and the SQA, who I know understand the stress this is causing.”

Fiona Robertson added: "We will provide further details on the estimation of grades, that we will need from teachers and lecturers to inform certification, and fuller details of our approach to certification, as soon as possible.”