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Rennie: Cancel exams now so staff and students know where they stand

December 7, 2020 1:00 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today said that the Scottish Government must announce this week that the 2021 exams will be cancelled.

The Education Secretary is expected to make a statement to Parliament this week. In advance of this statement, Mr Rennie has warned that pupils around the country "don't have a level playing field" and stressed the importance of announcement on exams coming before schools break up for Christmas so that staff and students know where they stand.

The party has argued that the prompt cancellations of exams is essential to avoid a repeat of John Swinney's 2020 exams algorithm which crushed pupils' ambitions and penalised those from poorer backgrounds the most.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie commented:

"Ministers need to act without further delay.

"On any given day up to 30,000 pupils and 1,500 teachers absent for covid-related reasons. Some have had to self-isolate for a fortnight multiple times, while others haven't missed a minute of school. Every pupil and class is experiencing a different level of disruption. That is not a level playing field.

"This week the Education Secretary needs to announce that exams are off so that staff and students know where they stand. With plenty of warning it is possible to put alternative methods of assessment in place. It will be much harder to do that if ministers kick the can into the new year or create more work for teachers over the Christmas holidays.

"The Liberal Democrat education minister in Wales announced weeks ago that exams were cancelled and set out one option Scottish ministers could follow.

"Teachers and parents are concluding it wouldn't be fair to go ahead with nationwide exams as normal. The Scottish Government needs to end the uncertainty, immediately announce that the exams won't go ahead and establish the credible alternative before Christmas."