I have to admit, I always hated exams. I always struggled with the weeks of revision and always felt they were a weird memory test rather than demonstration of ability. But at least I knew they were coming at the start of the school year.
We are a month into the school year, but fourth, fifth and sixth years don’t know whether they will get to sit exams. And while teachers should not simply teach for the test, how can you teach if you don’t know what the test is at all?
Behind this lack of clarity is a real Catch-22 decision. John Swinney has said that he will set out the plans for assessment at the start of next month. The problem is that no-one can say with any confidence that exams will definitely take place next year.
Coronavirus is inherently unpredictable, as the surge in infection rates in recent days has demonstrated. We don’t know what the winter will bring and what sort of disruption to learning there may have been by the time we get around to exam season. The reality is that the real final decision on exams may only be able to be taken the week before.
But one thing that could have happened already is a clear explanation of what the back-up will be. For the reasons just set out, there will need to be a back-up plan based on course work.
Surely that could be set out now, so at least students and teachers know what to focus on in case the exams are cancelled again.
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