‘Simply unforgivable’ that SNP have let pupils down again

The Scottish Conservatives have slammed the SNP’s approach towards pupil assessments, saying it is “simply unforgivable” that they have not learned the mistakes of last year’s exams fiasco.

New Shadow Education Secretary Oliver Mundell says the SNP and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) have betrayed Scotland’s young people by putting them in an even worse position than pupils who were affected last year.

The Scottish Conservatives have also said the SQA is not fit for purpose and must be replaced by a new body to restore trust among pupils, parents and teachers.

Oliver Mundell added that confirmation that SQA assessment papers and marking scripts have been accessed by thousands of pupils online is “alarming” and shows the total failure of SNP Ministers to address pupils’ concerns before they sat exams in “all but name”.

Responding to the statement from SNP Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Sommerville, he questioned how papers being readily available would ensure a “fair and robust” system would be in place for pupils to get the grades they deserve.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Education Secretary Oliver Mundell said: “The fiasco of last year’s exams was bad enough for Scotland’s young people, but shamefully the SNP have put this year’s pupils in an even worse position. That is simply unforgivable.

“First they told them exams were cancelled again, but they have completely failed to address their concerns about sitting exams in all but name.

“Putting in an appeals process to try and rectify this long after deadlines have been missed just doesn’t cut it. The SQA is completely unfit for purpose and must be replaced by a body that will be trusted by parents, pupils and teachers.

“With alarming confirmation that thousands of pupils have easily accessed assessment papers and marking scripts online, this year’s assessment process is a total mess.

“Nobody condones attempts to cheat, but SNP Ministers were too busy trying to paint a rosy picture instead of tackling the reality for pupils.

“Our young people have suffered huge disruption due to the pandemic. It is completely unacceptable that the SNP Government have failed to be on their side and are now greatly running the risk of harming their future prospects yet again.”

Notes: The text of Oliver Mundell’s question to Shirley-Anne Sommerville is below:

Presiding Officer

Last year’s exam chaos was unacceptable but the failure to learn the lessons is unforgivable.

For us to be in a worse position a year on is a betrayal of our young people.

We have seen inconsistent approaches school to school, never mind local authority to local authority.

Confusion over what counts as evidence of attainment.

Pupils being told exams were cancelled then facing an exam in all but name.

BUT worst of all, we have confirmation today that SQA assessment papers are available online on an industrial scale.

On what planet is this fair or robust?

And how on earth does the Cabinet Secretary explain the astonishing naivety and incompetence of the SQA?

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