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Due to the cancellation of exams, teachers have been tasked with issuing grades for pupils based on previous coursework, marks and prelims. Some teachers have raised concerns that grades might be set aside in order to better reflect national averages. Can the cabinet secretary confirm that that will not be the case and that no pupils will be disadvantaged as a result of efforts to secure year-on-year comparisons?
The Scottish Qualifications Authority, in setting out the approach that it intends to take in the current unprecedented circumstances, has said that fairness for learners will be at the heart of its approach. The SQA will want to ensure that that standard is met throughout the assessment process.
Teacher judgment will be at the core of the assessment process this year. The SQA has issued guidance to teachers to assist them in the identification of grades. That process will inevitably involve a great deal of dialogue in individual schools to determine what should be submitted on behalf of individual pupils.
Clearly, in any national examination system, we must have confidence that the same standards are being applied in all parts of the country: an A, B or C in the north of Scotland must be the same as an A, B or C in the south of the country. Moderation across the education system has been a hallmark throughout the exams process that we have had and it will have a role to play in the process that we take forward. The SQA has been clear about what will be involved in that moderation process and will set out further guidance on that approach in due course.
The system, however, depends on the fundamental question of the delivery of teacher judgment—school by school and classroom by classroom—around the country. The SQA has given teachers a longer period to formulate those judgments in order to enable the assessment process to come to a conclusion so that certification can be issued on 4 August—the date on which it was always designed to take place.