Scotland school closures: Exams will not go ahead

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Scottish Government reveal expected impact of school closures

Exams will be cancelled in Scotland's this year for the first time in the country's history, as a result of the coronavirus, John Swinney has announced.

"I'm aware of how a significant step this is," the education Secretary told Parliament.

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Picture: JPIPicture: JPI
Picture: JPI

"It is an unprecedented one in unprecedented times.

"Scotland''s exam diet has never been cancelled before."

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He told MSPs that he would do the utmost to protect the "life chances" of youngsters affected who are due to sit exams from the end of April.

"Their achievements must be rightly and fairly recognised - I want to 2020 cohort to hold their heads high and gain the qualifications and award they deserve after many years of hard work.

"I know they will be very worried by the situation they face."

It means national 4s and 5s, as well as Higher exams will not now take place. It comes after the announcement yesterday that schools will be closed from Friday.

Mr Swinney aid that a credible "credible certification model" will be put in place based on the performance of youngsters so far this year.

This can "command confidence" with no exams happening, he added.

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Youngsters now due to sit exams will instead gain awards on the basis of "course work, teacher assessment of estimated grades and prior attainment" as the basis of certification.

The Scottish Qualifications will need units to be completed and course work and estimates of grades to be submitted teachers by agreed deadlines, Swinney added.

"I appeal to our teachers and practitioners to do all that they can safely to meet these deadlines and so allow qualifications to be awarded to their young people."He added: "Schools should submit course work and teacher estimates as soon as they can and by the dates provided."

The assessment elements set out are already part of the "suite of materials" which is already provided to the Scottish Qualifications Authority on an annual basis, Swinney added.

"I believe that this is in the best interests of our young people," he added.

"They deserve to have their achievements recognised and to be able to take their next step in learning, life or work.

"They cannot achieve this without the vital contribution of the Scottish Qualifications Authority."

"Teachers and other staff who are well will continue to be working," he added.

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Senior phase pupils with course work for their national qualifications to finish will be advised by schools how to do this

Mr Swinney told MSPs it is becoming "increasingly difficult" to sustain education provisions in Scotland which led to blanket schools closures from Friday.

Teaching, learning and support will continue, but in "different ways", he added

For most pupils this will be through "distance learning and online learning" he added, with different forms of contact with teachers rather than "face to face " in schools.

There will now be a focus on providing "educational continuity" for this in S4-6, in collaboration with local councils, who need to complete their course work for national qualifications.

Weekly "learning tasks" will now be set by teachers and emailing these out, as well as using GLOW and other online learning platforms.

"I'm confident that the teaching profession will respond in a variety of imaginative, creative and stimulating ways to support continuity and learning of pupils," Swinney added.Arrangements will also be put in place to ensure that children of key workers who don't have another parent or carer to look after them will get continue to get access to childcare.

This will allow such key workers, including NHS staff and police, are able to participate in the response to COVID-19.

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This could see some schools stay open with reduced staffing or even the creation of "local hubs" using community facilities.

Private childcare providers may also be used to provide cover, including childminders.

Mr Swinney even urged councils to "prioritise" using private nurseries to provide much needed financial support as the sector struggles to tackle the impact of the outbreak.

Support will also be made available for other parents who are seeking to balance working from home with looking after children.

"These parents are not expected to be a teacher or recreate the school day, but we want to make sure they feel supported to help their children," he said.

"The support will be available through schools, through the provision of resources and suggestions as the first point of call in providing this advisory support."

Join our Facebook group Coronavirus in Scotland. Whether you know of a vulnerable person who is in need of help, a local community proactively helping others or a group offering their services to those hit hardest, this is the place to communicate it.



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