TORY MSP Oliver Mundell found himself in a “car-crash” interview on the Scottish Government’s exam plans this morning.

BBC Good Morning Scotland interviewer Laura Maxwell put Mundell on the spot as he demanded that Holyrood ministers commit to holding exams next year – the day after Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville did exactly that.

Somerville said plans are in place for a 2022 exam diet “if safe to do so”, reflecting the unpredictable nature of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Careful contingency planning has taken place in case there is further significant disruption to learning or if public health conditions do not allow for the holding of an examination diet,” she explained.

“These contingencies offer stability for teachers and learners in the coming academic session and will allow their focus to be on normal practices in teaching, learning and assessment.”

This wasn’t good enough for Mundell, who told the BBC Radio Scotland programme: “I think we should making it clear that those will only be used if absolutely necessary. And they should recognise the additional workload that places on teachers,” he told listeners.

Maxwell was taken aback. “Well they’ve done that haven’t they?” she asked. “There’s two contingency plans, not one but two. They’ve said if there’s significant disruption to learning as a result of coronavirus but the public health advice says exams can go ahead there will be some modifications to courses. And if public health officials say exams can’t be sat in person then the awards will be based on teacher judgements based on normal in-year assessment.

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“What else do you want them to do?” Maxwell asked Mundell.

“I think they should say that they’re absolutely committed to exams going ahead,” the Tory MSP for Dumfriesshire replied, before Maxwell pointed out that’s exactly what the Scottish Government has done.

Mundell insisted that ministers should pledge their 100% commitment to exams going ahead, before Maxwell asked: “So you want them to run exams if public health experts say they shouldn’t be sat in person and it would be a danger to health?”

Mundell, the party’s education spokesperson, said that wasn’t what he wanted.

Listeners shared the clip on social media, describing it as a “shambles” and a “car-crash”.

“Fumbling because he was demanding something that was exactly what had been done,” added one Twitter user. “Out of his depth springs to mind,” commented another.

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Somerville announced yesterday that the diet for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher will return, but the content of courses has been reduced to reflect the disruption to learning in the past few years.

For example, some topics in maths will be dropped from final exams, while English portfolios will only require one piece of writing to be completed.

“Fairness for learners sitting exams in 2022 is at the heart of our plans. Assessment modifications across national courses for the next academic session have already been confirmed by the Scottish Qualifications Authority in recognition of the disruption to learning that young people have experienced,” she said.