Arrangements for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses in the 2020-21 session - joint statement from Scottish Government and SQA

Friday 14 August 2020

As the new term starts, the Scottish Government together with the whole of the Scottish education system is committed to ensure that there is enough support for learners for their learning and wellbeing.

While significant progress has been made in reducing incidence rates of the coronavirus, it has not gone away, and there remains a potential risk of disruption to the amount of teaching and learning that can be delivered this year, and the assessment of National Qualifications.

While the Strategic Framework for Re-Opening School, Early Learning and Childcare Provision makes clear that planning for the 2021 examination diet is underway and will continue, it is important that the education system has plans in place to ensure that we can cope with any disruptions in the coming months. There needs to be an appropriate balance between learning, teaching, and assessment in National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses.

As the Deputy First Minister said in his statement to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group has discussed a number of options in relation to this, including what modifications SQA can make to course assessments for some subjects, to free up additional learning and teaching time, should it be needed.

Today, SQA is launching two consultations to gather feedback on modifications to qualifications and adjustments to the 2021 exam timetable.

John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills said, “Coronavirus has had, and will likely continue to have, an impact on learning, teaching and assessment over the coming year. I am aware that many teachers will be keen to understand fully the arrangements for the assessment of national qualifications in 2021. The Education Recovery Group has discussed a number of options in relation to this, and I welcome this consultation exercise by the SQA examining options for possible course modifications that could help to support the delivery of learning, whilst maintaining the validity, credibility and standard of qualifications.”

Consultation on modifications to National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher course assessments

A technical consultation and survey are now available on our proposed modifications for each course. We are keen to gather feedback to help us determine how these modifications might work in practice. In the spirit of openness and transparency, SQA welcomes feedback from a range of audiences, including young people.

The modifications aim to support:

Consultation on contingency arrangements for the 2021 exam timetable

The planned 2021 exam timetable will start on Monday 26 April 2021 and finish on Thursday 3 June 2021. As there may be disruption, due to the coronavirus, we have developed a number of contingency models for the 2021 exam timetable.

Today, we have sent a consultation on these models directly to our Examination Timetable Advisory Group, which is made up of a range of stakeholders, including representatives from schools, colleges, teaching unions, local authorities, and parent groups. We will also consult with SQA Appointees who are involved in examining and marking procedures, and young people.

All confirmed modifications to course assessments and the 2021 exam timetable will be published on the SQA website during week beginning 31 August.

We thank everyone in advance for their feedback on these matters, as we work together to support the efforts of learners throughout Scotland.

Scottish Government

Scottish Qualifications Authority