WE at the Scottish Qualifications Authority can agree with Ross Greer on at least one thing: that our national qualifications system should avoid putting obstacles in the way of young people and offer fair assessments that allow everyone to fulfil their potential.

However, in his column last week, Mr Greer goes on to make at least two factual errors that we have to disagree with (This is how the SQA has made a mess of things again, June 18).

Firstly, the truth is that teachers’ judgements ARE being respected in this year’s assessment process. Secondly, there was no exam diet this year. Teachers could choose to use some, all or none of the assessment materials the SQA provided. They were able to combine them with other assessment methods. They were able to adapt them or even create their own. That is a perfect example of respecting teachers’ judgements.

READ MORE: Ross Greer: This is how the SQA has made a mess of things again

Many colleagues at SQA were teachers. Many of us are parents. Some of us have children going through their qualifications now. We have the same ambitions and anxieties for our children as other parents.

This has been an exceptionally challenging year. The National Qualifications 2021 Group, which includes teachers, school leaders, young people, parents and others, agreed that the alternative certification model, based on teachers’ judgement, was the best way forward in the challenging and exceptional circumstances we found ourselves in. If there was an easy alternative, as many people seem to believe, we would have done that.

All that said, there is one other point we can agree on with Mr Greer, which is that young people often feel the weight of the world on their shoulders at this time of year.

READ MORE: School exams body the SQA to be axed in education shake-up

Everyone is working hard to ensure young people across Scotland get the qualifications they deserve. We developed the alternative certification model to give schools the flexibility to assess learners at a time and in a way that suits their personal circumstances.

We are sure everyone with the genuine interests of Scotland’s children at heart understands that misrepresenting this approach risks causing unnecessary distress to learners at an already difficult time.

While our focus at SQA right now is on supporting our young people to get the qualifications they deserve, I welcome the OECD findings published on Monday and the subsequent announcement by ministers that a new body with responsibility for curriculum and assessment will replace the SQA.

This is an opportunity for significant change that will meet the future needs of our learners, our society and our economy, and which has the support of all.

We will make a full and positive contribution to the process that lies ahead, drawing on our experience and expertise as Scotland’s qualifications and accreditation body, and working in partnership with others across the education system. Whatever outcome emerges, it is critical that we all commit to maintaining the high standards that have long been the hallmark of Scotland’s qualifications.

In the meantime, SQA staff will continue their tireless, professional work to deliver this year’s National Qualifications to make sure learners get their final results in August and are rewarded for their hard work in this most challenging of years.

Fiona Robertson, 
Chief Executive and Chief Examiner, Scottish Qualifications Authority