Speaking on Good Morning Scotland on Wednesday, Shirley-Anne Somerville said an announcement was imminent about the future of exams for 2022 and hinted it was likely to be a return to pre-Covid normality for most students.
She said: “One of the considerations that I've 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.
"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.
"I'm still looking at the final advice that's coming up on that and I'll be making announcements soon.
"I will want to be able to do that before the rest of the schools go back next week."
Asked whether the ‘alternative certification model’ used by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) for 2021 would provide a template for future exams, Ms Somerville said the future of assessments would be partially determined by the results of an OECD report due in August.
She said it was unlikely a brand new exams system would be in place in time for next year, with a need for consultation with parents and students.
The education secretary said: “But I think we need to be very careful about 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 in some of the options. These things take time.
"We have 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.
"I think we do 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.”