Daniel Wyatt, rector of Kelvinside Academy in Glasgow, said he was “dismayed” at the lack of clarity and called for exams to go ahead unless a “significant health concern” emerged that was “far greater than we are currently experiencing with the Omicron variant”.
His calls were echoed by the Scottish Conservatives, who said they would raise the issue with the Scottish Government during Tuesday’s Covid update in the Scottish Parliament in a bid to avoid “a third year of exam chaos”.
SNP education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said on Sunday that a decision on cancelling exams may not be made until the end of March.
Mr Wyatt said: “I – as I’m sure many working in education in Scotland will be – am dismayed a decision on whether or not to go ahead with exams could be left until March – it’s far too late.
"Put simply, it is not acceptable and shows complete disregard for the mental health of pupils and staff following two years of disruption, distraction and disappointment, all against a backdrop of coping with the impact of the pandemic.
“The current S5 and S6 pupils have prepared for exams and then not sat them for two years. They cannot be expected to endure the same again.
"Last summer we also saw an incredible response from teachers going above and beyond to complete the alternative certification model as well as teach classes. It is not fair or reasonable to ask them to do it again.”
He added: “I appreciate it can never be 100 per cent, particularly in this climate, but the educational community deserves more certainty in what the future holds, and there simply must be more positive messaging for pupils and, indeed, all involved in education in Scotland.
“Exams must go ahead unless there is a significant health concern far greater than we are currently experiencing with the Omicron variant.”
Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Oliver Mundell said: "The SNP must guarantee that every pupil will be able to sit their exams this year as planned. Parents and pupils are already making their voices heard that another year of exam chaos is unthinkable after the disaster we’ve seen over the last two years.
“They cannot be left in the dark until the end of March. After years of upheaval and uncertainty, Scotland’s young people deserve a return to a normal school experience. The SNP cannot keep disrupting pupils’ education by cancelling exams year after year.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Learners, parents and teachers should be assured that the clear intention is for exams to go ahead. They will only be cancelled if public health advice says it isn’t safe for them to take place – for example, if there are restrictions on gatherings.
“Due to the unpredictability of the pandemic, we cannot know now what the public health advice will be for exams in the spring, but learners, parents and teachers will be told of any changes to plans as soon as possible.”