Scottish Liberal Democrats call for parliamentary statement on exams

Scottish Liberal Democrats have today lodged a request for a parliamentary statement amid mounting concern and evidence about the stress and damage being caused by the flood of assessments replacing exams.

In a letter to John Swinney, Beatrice Wishart has told of a pupil who has the equivalent of an assessment a day for 8 weeks straight and warned of the toll the demands are taking on young people and staff.

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP wrote:

"The alternative arrangements imposed by the SQA for this year’s exams are clearly and indisputably causing harm to young people and their teachers.

"Few would have thought it possible to see a system do more damage than last year.  But reports from constituents make it clear that there is every likelihood this year’s arrangements could be worse, in terms of equality, fairness and mental health.

"Pupils who were told exams were off are now finding lots of them crammed into a short period of time, at short notice. One reported that a pupil “has 40 assessments in 8 weeks which averages at 1 a day for 8 weeks.” A constituent described this as “the worst outcome that could ever possibly have happened”. Teachers and pupils are exhausted. I’m told many are unable to sleep because of stress, and that anxiety is on the increase.   

"To claim, as the First Minister has, that the SQA’s demand for evidence based grading is the same as teacher judgement shows either a serious misunderstanding of your government’s policies on the ground, or shows an active desire to mislead the public about what is being asked of teachers and pupils.

"Teachers are being asked to produce examinations and all for less than minimum wage because the extra payment is so small. They have to produce the exams themselves, they have to create the marking schemes, they have to mark the exams, they have to quality assure, and then they have to translate those marks into grades. It is unclear why the SQA have removed themselves from so many of their normal responsibilities.

"These reports bring a troubling sense of déjà vu with them. Last year all warnings were ignored by yourself and the SQA until the damage had been done. I worry the same has happened again. The unminuted meetings between yourself and the SQA do nothing to put those concerns to rest.

"Decision makers need to be upfront and accountable. As soon as parliamentary business resumes, there must be a parliamentary statement to explain and justify why staff and pupils have been put through such needless turmoil."



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