LiveCoronavirus in Scotland RECAP: Higher exams cancelled and latest levels update as 33 further Covid deaths are recorded

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John Swinney has announced the cancellation of Higher exams in 2021
John Swinney has announced the cancellation of Higher exams in 2021

Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE: Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Last updated: Tuesday, 08 December, 2020, 16:43

  • Higher exams will be cancelled for next year
  • Universities’ return will be staggered over at least six weeks
  • Undergraduate students to restart their studies at home
  • 33 further Covid-19 deaths  reported in Scotland
  • 692 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday
  • UK’s Covid-19 vaccination programme begins
  • 90-year-old Brit becomes first in the world to receive Covid-19 jab

All school exams in Scotland cancelled next year

All exams in Scotland have been cancelled because of the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on pupils, Education Secretary John Swinney has announced.

Mr Swinney told the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday that Higher and Advanced Higher exams are being cancelled for the second year in a row after an earlier decision to scrap tests at National 5.

He explained “the level of disruption to learners has not been equal”, with pupils from poorer backgrounds more likely to miss school to self-isolate.

Mr Swinney said: “I will not stake the future of our Higher pupils – whether they get a place at college, university, training or work – on a lottery of whether their school was hit by Covid.

“Exams cannot account for differential loss of learning and could lead to unfair results for our poorest pupils.

“This could lead to pupils’ futures being blighted through no fault of their own. That is simply not fair.”

Scottish Conservatives education spokesman Jamie Greene says Mr Swinney’s statement does “not make good on promises” but is instead “an admission of “complete failure”.

John Swinney: “I will not stake the future of our Higher pupils – whether they get a place at college, university, training or work – on a lottery of whether their school was hit by Covid.”

John Swinney schools announcement LIVE

John Swinney said: “There is no getting around the fact that a significant percentage of our poorest pupils have lost significantly more than other pupils’ teaching time.”

And he insisted: “I will not stake the future of our Higher pupils – whether they get a place at college, university, training or work – on a lottery of whether their school was hit by Covid.

“Exams cannot account for differential loss of learning and could lead to unfair results for our poorest pupils. This could lead to pupils’ futures being blighted through no fault of their own. That is simply not fair.”

The Education Secretary also announced a special payment would be made to those teachers and lecturers who are critical in assessing National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams.

He said: “In acknowledgement of the additional workload of assessment of national qualifications in this unique academic year in the absence of exams, I intend to make an exceptional one-off payment to teachers and lecturers who are critical to assessing and marking N5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses this year.

“We will progress this urgently with partners and employers, including discussing when and how the payment will be delivered.”

John Swinney schools announcement LIVE

In a statement to Holyrood, Mr Swinney said pupils had already “lost significant learning time”.

He said they had lost teaching time at the end of the last academic year, when schools were still closed, when “pupils normally start to study for the following year’s qualifications”.

Mr Swinney added: “That has now been compounded by the disruption many have suffered as they were obliged to self-isolate, had to learn from home or even saw their school closed.

“And we know that the level of disruption to learners has not been equal.”

Mr Swinney said: “There is no getting around the fact that a significant percentage of our poorest pupils have lost significantly more than other pupils’ teaching time.”

Undergraduate students to restart their studies at home

John Swinney schools announcement LIVE

Education Secretary John Swinney said Higher and Advanced Higher exams in Scotland are to be cancelled in 2021.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, he said: “Instead we will adopt the new model that has been developed and base awards on teacher judgment of evidence of learner attainment.

“This is safe. It is fair. And it better recognises the reality of the disruption so many pupils have already had to their learning.”

Mr Swinney has previously announced that the National 5 exam diet – roughly equivalent to GCSEs in England – which was due to take place in the spring of 2021 was being cancelled as a result of Covid-19.

Mr Swinney says grades will be based on teacher judgement of evidence of learner attainment.

Education Secretary John Swinney says Higher and Advanced Higher exams for 2021 will be cancelled

Asymptomatic testing of school staff to be piloted in January

John Swinney announcement LIVE: Universities return after Christmas will be staggered.

The Education Secretary will announce the cancellation at Holyrood today amid concerns that too many pupils had unfairly missed out schooling as a result of being ordered to self isolate.

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New restrictions for residents across Scotland have been announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this afternoon.

Coronavirus restrictions to be eased for majority of Scots

Cafes, restaurants, shops and hairdressers will be able to reopen in many areas of Scotland from Friday and Saturday as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday that no area of Scotland will remain in Level 4 when changes come into force later this week.

The toughest tier of restrictions was imposed on 11 Scottish council areas – including Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Stirling – on November 20.

Non-essential shops in these areas will be able to reopen from 6am on Friday. The rest of the changes will come into affect from 6pm that day.

Hospitality businesses in Level 3 areas must close their doors by 6pm, meaning they will have to wait until Saturday to welcome back customers for food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Travel restrictions remain in place, says Nicola Sturgeon

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