SCOTTISH teenagers face more covid related exam disruption with education secretary, John Swinney reportedly set to drop next year's National 5 tests.

However, it looks increasingly likely some form of Higher and Advanced Higher exams will go ahead.

Swinney is due to make an announcement before the October holidays.

His decision will be based on the findings of a report by University of Stirling professor of education Mark Priestley into this summer's exam chaos. He's also waiting on a long-overdue analysis by the SQA.

One insider told the Sunday Times: “Cancelling next year’s National 5s, many of which are continuously assessed, would be a least-worst option. However, retaining Higher exams, albeit based on a shorter school year with fewer areas of some subjects being covered, would be a better outcome for teachers and pupils under the circumstances.”

Scottish Green education spokesman, Ross Greer, said it would be better to cancel all exams.

“Highers are a critical qualification for tens of thousands of young people, so leaving even part of those grades up to exams which the Education Secretary cannot guarantee will go ahead is a huge risk,” he said.

“John Swinney himself has already acknowledged the huge logistical challenge presented by attempting to run exams, given all pupils must sit the exam at the same time but a maximum of only 50 pupils can be in any exam hall. This doesn’t even take into account the impact of any future local or national lockdowns, the huge workload that preparing for both exams and an alternative contingency would place on teachers or the reality that a month's learning and teaching time in June has already been lost. 

"The only reliable solution is to cancel the 2021 exams now and grade pupils based on their work throughout the year, avoiding both the risk of exams taking place during a pandemic and the chaos of last month’s grading scandal. The Scottish Greens worked hard to secure a fix this year which saw 75,000 pupils’ grades restored, we’d prefer to avoid the need to do so again next August."

Scottish Tory education spokesman Jamie Greene said Swinney clarify how scaled-back Highers and Advanced Highers would be fairly assessed and graded. He said: “All the stops must be pulled out to deliver a full exam diet next year where possible.

“If that is not happening, then the onus is on John Swinney to explain to parents, pupils and teachers why he can’t do that.”

Scottish Labour’s Iain Gray said: “The legacy of the results debacle must be that any changes for next year are clearly communicated to pupils and teachers as quickly as possible. If there are to be alterations to the curriculum, additional coursework requirements or amended exam plans, then these must be confirmed as a matter of urgency.

“Above all, pupils and teachers must know exactly what evidence they need to gather for assessments if exams do not happen. We cannot have another fiasco like this year’s.”

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said working towards a normal diet of exams for next year was “hopelessly optimistic, given even the current levels of disruption being faced in schools, let alone the threat of a second wave of the virus”.

“Changes will be required,” he added.