Nat 5 exams cancelled for 2021; highers and advanced highers to go ahead.

There will be no National 5 exams next year, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said today.

Instead, National 5 courses will now be assessed using an alternative certification approach. This will be based on teacher and lecturer judgement supported by assessment resources and quality assurance.

Exams for highers and advanced highers will go ahead as expected. His announcement comes as Nicola Sturgeon introduced strict new measures to quell the increase in coronavirus infections.

SQA Chief Executive Fiona Robertson, said: “The SQA is committed to listening and being responsive to the needs of schools, colleges, stakeholders, learners and parents/carers and will play its full part in delivering the measures outlined by the Deputy First Minister today.”

The SQA published broad guidance on evidence gathering and estimation with a very clear focus on the quality, not quantity, of evidence.

This will be followed after the October break by subject specific guidance, published on a rolling basis, on the work that learners need to complete.

Quality assurance

Ms Robertson, who is also Scotland’s Chief Examining Officer, added: “We will work with schools and colleges through the year on the quality assurance of their learners’ work, including sampling work and feeding back to teachers and lecturers to ensure standards are maintained. This is essential in providing fairness to learners across Scotland and central to SQA’s role as Scotland’s awarding body.

“We will also work with Education Scotland, local authorities, regional improvement collaboratives and others to support a local and national approach to moderation and quality assurance, including the provision of assessment resources. We will provide an update on this work as soon as possible.

“In August, we undertook two consultations on modifications to assessment across National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher and changes to the exam timetable. In total, we received a very significant volume of responses – over 23,000 – from learners, parents, carers, teachers, lecturers, and stakeholders – including professional associations. SQA has analysed all the feedback received and acted on it.

“In response to this consultation, we have today published information on the modifications for individual subjects.”

Advanced Higher exams are planned to start on Thursday 13 May 2021 and finish on Friday 4 June 2021, with Results Day on Tuesday 10 August 2021, although a contingency plan will be developed.

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