All secondary school exams in Scotland cancelled next year due to pandemic

8 December 2020, 16:48

Highers and Advanced Highers have been cancelled in Scotland in 2021
Highers and Advanced Highers have been cancelled in Scotland in 2021. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

All exams in Scotland have been cancelled because of the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on pupils, Education Secretary John Swinney has announced.

Mr Swinney told the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday that Higher and Advanced Higher exams are being cancelled for the second year in a row after an earlier decision to scrap tests at National 5.

He explained "the level of disruption to learners has not been equal", with pupils from poorer backgrounds more likely to miss school to self-isolate.

Mr Swinney said: "I will not stake the future of our Higher pupils - whether they get a place at college, university, training or work - on a lottery of whether their school was hit by Covid.

"Exams cannot account for differential loss of learning and could lead to unfair results for our poorest pupils.

"This could lead to pupils' futures being blighted through no fault of their own. That is simply not fair."

He added: "While we hope that public health will improve in the coming months, we cannot guarantee that there will be no further disruption to pupils' learning.

"In light of this, the question is less whether we can hold the exams safely in the spring and more whether we can do so fairly.

"However, there is no getting around the fact that a significant percentage of our poorest pupils have lost significantly more teaching time than other pupils.

"Changing the exams for all does not - and cannot - address that. Instead, we need a model that is more flexible to the specific circumstances of the individual pupil."

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