Scottish Higher and Advanced Higher exams cancellation supported by voters

The decision to cancel Higher and Advanced Higher exams by the Scottish Government has been backed by the majority of voters, a new poll has found.

Educations Secretary John Swinney announced the cancellation of the 2021 exam diet last week amid growing concerns that too many pupils had unfairly missed out schooling as a result of being ordered to self isolate.

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It will be the second consecutive year exams have been cancelled in Scotland and comes months after the decision to cancel National 5s was made by Mr Swinney.

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However, despite criticism from some parent activist groups and opposition politicians, the policy has been widely backed by Scottish voters in a new survey.

In a new poll by The Scotsman/Savanta ComRes, just over half (51 per cent) of respondents supported the decision, with 17 per cent saying they definitely should be cancelled and 34 per cent saying they probably should be cancelled.

However, a large minority disagree with the choice, with 20 per cent of respondents saying exams should probably not have been cancelled and 14 per cent saying they should definitely have been allowed to take place.

Scotland's Highers and Advanced Highers were cancelled by education secretary John SwinneyScotland's Highers and Advanced Highers were cancelled by education secretary John Swinney
Scotland's Highers and Advanced Highers were cancelled by education secretary John Swinney

A total of 20 per cent of respondents said the decision was made too early, with 34 per cent stating the timing was “about right" and a further 31 per cent stating it was too late.

The cancellation of exams in 2020 following the decision for Scotland to go into lockdown eventually led to an embarrassing U-turn for Mr Swinney in August.

The Education Secretary was forced to bow to public pressure and he narrowly won a no-confidence vote after 125,000 grades were downgraded from original teacher estimates due to a moderation process involving a statistical model.

Chris Hopkins, associate director of Savanta ComRes, said the move to cancel exams was a rarity in the balance of opinion.

He said: “Considering the public generally approve of how the Scottish Government have handled many aspects of the pandemic, the fact they’re split down the middle on how schooling and exams have been handled speaks volumes.

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"With roughly the same proportions saying the decision to cancel exams was made at the right time and too late, but half of Scots supporting the eventual decision, it’s likely that the government can ride this minor mishap without self-inflicting any reputational damage.”

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