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19 March 2020 22:39

UK lockdown Scottish Qualifications Authority Scotland

Coronavirus: Scottish exams cancelled for first time in history

SCOTTISH school exams have been cancelled for the first time in their history - as all schools will close to pupils tomorrow amid the coroavirus pandemic. Education Secretary John Swinney told MSPs that pupils "deserve to have their achievements recognised" and will still obtain qualifications this year. After discussions with the chief examiner, Mr Swinney said prior attainment, coursework and teacher estimates will be used to determine pupils' grades after taking the "unprecedented" step to cancel the exam diet. READ MORE: Coronavirus: Union chief wants teachers to assess pupils amid school closures "I know they will be very worried by the situation they face and I want them to be assured we are doing all that we can to deliver the best outcome for them."he added that "coursework, along with assessments from teachers of the expected performance of young people, combined with prior attainment will be used as part of that assessment." The Scottish Government expects all schools and nurseries to close to pupils from Friday in a bid to try and supress the spread of coronavirus. But Mr Sweeney said some schools could provide a "skeleton staff" which could offer support and care for vulnerable pupils and those whose parents are classes as key workers.

Mr Swinney said the Scottish Government will "continue the provision of free school meals" but there are "multiple options" as to how local authorities could provide them. Despite schools closing on Friday, Mr Swinney said he "expects to work on further details into next week" with local councils. He said: "We must support local authorities to put in place arrangements that ensure the children of key workers, who do not have another parent or carer at home who can look after them during the day, have continuing access to all-age learning and childcare that allows their parents or carers to participate in the national response to Covid-19. Fiona Robertson, Scotland's chief examining officer and chief executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), said teachers will give estimated grades to pupils, based on "the available evidence gathered throughout the year" and previous scores. Announcing a free post-results service to review grades, Ms Robertson added: "I fully appreciate that this will be an uncertain time for learners who have worked hard throughout the year and will now, with their families, be worried about what this means for them.

He said: "This is clearly a deeply worrying time for pupils, parents and those in the childcare and teaching industries, but the Scottish Government has our full support on this. "The decision to close schools and nurseries is one of the most difficult any government can take and, while understandable and inevitable, it will have a lasting impact on the future lives of many young people." He added: "There do remain unanswered questions about how and which key workers will be provided schooling and childcare, the role of the private nursery sector in all of this, and how pupils will be effectively graded in the absence of exams. Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie added: "We support the decision to close most schools and nurseries as it is based on scientific advice on how best to keep people safe. "The government's plans look to ensure pupils receive qualifications they have been working for and to ensure that pupils and young people are benefiting from the continuity of their education. "This will be an anxious time for young people but I want them to know that this decision is in their best interests." GCSE and A-level results are expected to be awarded based on predicted grades and teacher assessment after schools were closed and exams cancelled, leading to concerns that black and working-class pupils will be disadvantaged.

Teachers, pupils and parents were left in shock after the government announced that UK schools were to close indefinitely this Friday and summer exams had been scrapped as part of a national effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, will give more details about what will replace exams on Friday, but it is likely that GCSE and A-level results will be awarded based on predicted grades. Prof Kalwant Bhopal, director of the centre for research in race and education at Birmingham University, said predicted grades were often wrong, to the detriment of some categories of student. "There's a lot of evidence to show that there are stereotypes around particular types of students, so their predicted grades are lower, and when they do the exam they do better than their predicted grade," she said. Lee Elliot Major, professor of social mobility at Exeter University, said evidence had shown that the poorest students receive lower A-level predictions than their more privileged peers.

Edward, 17, an A-level student in Witney in Oxfordshire, said it would be unfair to base final grades on mock exams as most pupils did not make as much effort as they would for a real exam, and many had improved since. Some people have sacrificed so much time working towards exams and now we don't know what will happen." Another proposal has been that some students might be given the option to sit their exam in the autumn if they are unhappy with the grade awarded under the emergency system. Hillman warned that using predicted grades could lead to the government bailing out some lower-tariff universities already in a precarious financial situation as more selective institutions, including those in the Russell Group, picked up students at their expense. "It's not going to be an educational setting," Williamson told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, "they're not going to be teaching the national curriculum, but it's going to be a safe place for people who are key to combating this virus and keeping the country moving forward. "In terms of the number of key workers, but also vulnerable children, some of those children who are most at risk, we'd be looking at up to 10% of a roll of a school being eligible in order to do this [stay open] and the best scientific advice has been that that has a good effect in terms of reducing a pandemic and these are safe environments for children to be there." Jules White, headteacher of Tanbridge House school, a 1,600-pupil comprehensive in Horsham, West Sussex, said he had written to parents asking whether they were key workers, and was anticipating catering for around 200 children from next Monday, with provision planned for the Easter holiday.

He said his school was currently well set up to cope, with enough teachers in good health to keep the service running and possibly support other schools elsewhere who were struggling to find staff. Exams for Scottish school pupils will not take place this year, the education secretary has announced. The Scottish government announced on Wednesday that all Scottish schools would be closing on Friday. Mr Swinney said a model would be put in place to ensure that young people in schools and colleges who were unable to sit exams would not be disadvantaged in any way. Mr Swinney said: "In all of our history Scotland has never cancelled the exams. Mr Swinney stressed that saving lives was the Scottish government's top priority but said it was important to protect the "interests and life chances" of young people. The education secretary also urged teachers to do all they could safely to meet deadlines and allow young people to get their grades. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Scottish schools will be closing at the end of this week The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) said work had started "at pace" to develop an alternative certification model. The SQA's chief executive Fiona Robertson said: "I fully appreciate that this will be an uncertain time for learners who have worked hard throughout the year and will now, with their families, be worried about what this means for them. In a statement today, the CFA Institute said it has, 'made the unprecedented decision to postpone the June 2020 CFA Program Exam administrations globally.' The Institute says candidates registered for the June exams will be transferred to one of the next two exam administrations. The fact that the CFA Institute isn't offering a refund and is simply offering registration for future exams has added to the upset. Investment management professional trade body the CFA Institute has postponed all examinations scheduled for June 2020 in light of the coronavirus pandemic. It said the June 2020 CFA Program Exam administrations would be suspended in all countries across the globe. CFA Institute said in a statement, candidates registered for the June exams will be transferred to one of the next two exam administrations. "We have hundreds of thousands of candidates around the world, and we know how much time they have invested in preparation for the June exams," said Franklin. As of 12 March 2020, the close of registration, more than 245,000 global candidates registered to take the exam in June 2020.