Tories urge Nicola Sturgeon to commit to exams in Scotland definitely going ahead

Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to commit to exams going ahead this year.

The Scottish Conservatives insisted pupils, teachers and parents have “suffered enough anxiety, frustration and confusion after two years of cancellations”.

The First Minister previously said it was her “firm intention” that exams would go ahead, but argued “contingencies are needed” due to the pandemic.

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The Scottish Tories insist exams must go ahead

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has said a final decision will be made by the end of March at the latest.

In a debate in Holyrood today, the Tories will call on the SNP to guarantee that exams won’t be cancelled for a third year running.

Meghan Gallacher, the party’s spokeswoman for children and young people, said: “When she became First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon asked to be judged on her education record. On that basis, she should be ashamed of herself.

“It is essential that exams finally go ahead this year – and the SNP Government must commit to them being held.

"Pupils, teachers and parents have suffered enough anxiety, frustration and confusion after two years of cancellations.

“The education secretary revealed last week that the Government had no contingency plans in place to hold exams at alternative venues, in the event of Covid restrictions, and that no money had been set aside for this.

"That’s deeply concerning because cancelling them cannot be an option.

“The SNP’s record on education is a tale of broken promises and failed reforms.

Scotland once led the way in education, but standards have fallen dramatically after 15 years of SNP rule – and it is children from disadvantaged backgrounds who are suffering most.

“Nicola Sturgeon must finally make education – not another divisive independence referendum – her top priority.”

The Tory motion reads: “That the Parliament regrets that education has never been the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s number one priority, and expresses frustration at the widening attainment gap and the failure to guarantee that the 2022 school examination diet will go ahead in full.”

Last week, Ms Sturgeon told MSPs: "Given we're still living through a pandemic, contingencies are needed in education as in all other aspects of life right now."

The First Minister had separately pledged that “if education is further disrupted, because of developments in the pandemic, than additional support will be provided for those studying for exams”.

She said: “The second contingency is that if public health advice says it isn’t safe for young people to come together to sit exams in the traditional way, then we go back to a situation akin to the last two years where we would have teacher judgment coming to bear instead of exams.”

In the summer, the Scottish Government had said it hoped exams would go ahead as normal this year “if safe to do so”, but that there were two other alternatives it would consider if the pandemic was not under control.

Scottish Labour education spokesman Michael Marra said earlier this month: “Labour pointed out at the time of announcement last year that waiting until the end of March to make these decisions is ridiculous for young people, families and teachers. The pupils of Scotland have now endured years of disrupted learning due to the pandemic and the SNP Government has continually failed to lead from the front.”

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