FOI20/21 186 Contingency Plans

Date published: 23/02/2021

FOI reference: 20/21 186

Date received: 27/01/2021

Date responded: 23/02/2021

Information requested

I would like to know what contingency plans the SQA put in place/developed regarding potential disruption to the 2021 examinations diet, which has of course ultimately been cancelled.


I therefore ask that you release under FOISA any planning, briefings, reports etc regarding options/plans for the awarding of National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications in 2021.


The time frame for this request is April 1 2020 - present


1 On 3 August SQA responded to a similar request we received from you on 10 May 2020. In response to your request SQA is a member of the Qualifications Contingency Group. The Scottish Government convened this group initially on 17 March 2020. The remit of the group and the minutes of the 4 meetings. This is where the plans to cancel examinations and instead use teacher judgements to award grades this year were discussed.

SQA has already sent you the contingency plan and scenario planning - see our responses to FOI 002 and 003 sent to you on 10 July 2020.

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you and can be accessed at the links above. If, however, you do not have access to the internet to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test'.

2 Then on 27 November 2020 SQA responded to a similar request from you on 19 October with the following response:

1. Please see the attached paper regarding National Qualifications for Academic Year 2020/21.

This paper was presented and discussed at the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group Meeting on 31 July 2020. The Scottish Government has published information about the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group on their website. The minutes from the meeting on 31 July 2020 and all other minutes from the meetings of this group along with a list of members of the group can be accessed at the following weblink COVID-19 Education Recovery Group - (

Since then the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group has continued to meet and the minutes from these meetings are published at the link given above.

3 Please note that SQA has also published updates on our website which can be accessed at the following weblink Qualifications in 2021 news - SQA including the following:

Following the cancellation of Highers and Adv Highers on 8 Dec, there was broad agreement that the 2021 alternative certification model (ACM) could be adopted in principle. This was advised on our website on 16 December.

Following the announcement on 4 Jan that schools would be moving to remote learning, we advised on 12 January that the National Qualifications 2021 Group was considering potential flexibilities to the model.

On 27 January, the NQ 2021 Group advised on an extension to the date for the submission of provisional results from 28 May to 18 June.

SQA publishes updates on an ongoing basis to support centres delivering and assessing SQA qualifications (including National Qualifications) in 2020/21 and this can be accessed Archived News