SQA Update – 13/01/22

Thursday 13th January 2022

The SQA communicated with schools this week that exams are expected to go ahead as planned in April – June. Exams will only be cancelled if public health advice restricts physical gatherings at that time. However, the SQA are currently closely monitoring the impact of the pandemic, and looking at contingency measures and plans to deal with the disruption currently being experienced by schools. In particular, they are monitoring student and staff absence rates.

If disruption continues, then it is likely that they will announce a move to ‘scenario 2’, which means that exams will go ahead but revision support will be introduced to help students.

A move to scenario 2 would mean that students would be provided with support in March to help them prepare and revise for the final exam. Support could take a variety of forms, depending on the subject, but may not be possible in some courses.

Should a move to ‘scenario 2′ be announced, or in the event that more information becomes available, we will schedule an SQA Parents’ Information Evening. You will be notified by Group Call, and via our website about this event in advance.

The SQA have prepared a Q&A on scenario 2, which should answer some of your immediate questions. Please also find a link to an SQA blog post here which provides more informations.

When will a decision on moving to Scenario 2 be made and on what basis? 
Given the current levels of disruption, a decision is likely to be made soon based on information such as national teacher and pupil absence levels. That information, which is provided weekly to the Covid-19 Education Recovery Group, chaired by the Scottish Government, will inform SQA’s decision to move to Scenario 2.   
When will learners, parents and centres be told that a decision has been made?  
If the decision is taken to move to Scenario 2 then this decision will be communicated to centres, learners and parents/carers as soon as is practicable and further advice made available on the types of revision support that will be provided. For some courses, this would be in the form of advice and guidance on what topics learners should focus their revision on to maximise their performance in exams.
When will centres, learners and parents/carers be given the revision support materials?  
Learners will be given the support materials in March to aid their revision ahead of the Easter holidays. We will endeavour to give you early notice of the support materials for each exam so you can support your learners. It is important that this information is not provided too far in advance to avoid the narrowing of learning and teaching which will negatively impact learners’ breadth of course knowledge/understanding and the next steps in their learning. 
What will centres need to do? 
Revision support is primarily aimed at learners but as you are aware you have a critical role to play in supporting your learners and helping them understand how to use the support materials to maximise their exam performance. 
What additional support will be given to centres and learners impacted by significant staff and/or pupil isolation?  
It is important to remember that the significant modifications already made to courses this year are designed to address the ongoing disruption to learning and teaching. Additional revision support, if provided, would provide further support.  
If exams are cancelled when will that decision be made and communicated? 
Exams will not be cancelled unless public health restrictions mean that physical gatherings are not permitted at the time of exams. Clearly this decision cannot be taken until nearer the time when the public health situation is clear but the Scottish Government has indicated that this will be the end of March at the latest. 
Will modifications be made to the timing of exams if the current situation continues to give centres/learners more time to catch up on learning/topics missed due to illness/ isolation? 
No. The timing of the exams cannot be moved for a range of reasons, including allowing sufficient time for marking and informing learners of their results in good time to make decisions about their next steps. 
Will modifications be made to actual examination papers if the current situation continues to give centres and learners pupils more time to catch up on learning and teaching missed due to illness/ isolation? 
No but the revision support, if provided, will help learners focus their revision and maximise their performance in exams. 
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