Statement: Scottish Government announces 2021 exam cancellations

In a statement, Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland said:

“Young people have had varied reactions to the news that exams would again be cancelled.  For some, this is a relief, but for others, particularly those who were negatively affected by the cancellation of the previous exam diet, it has increased stress.

The Scottish Government has a duty to ensure that children and young people can realise their human right to education. The SQA in its most recent Child Rights Impact Assessment recognises that the right to education requires the provision of appropriate assessment arrangements.

The SQA must urgently communicate what their alternative assessment arrangements will be for pupils due to sit their Highers/ Advanced Highers in 2021. Uncertainty has created a huge amount of anxiety and stress this year for young people. The alternative assessment system will be untested, so the SQA must anticipate that some young people will experience disadvantage and must ensure they have access to remedy through a direct appeals process. The appeals process needs to be human rights compliant, robust and take into consideration the needs of all young people.  

I’m calling for the SQA to make direct appeals available to young people, at no cost, for the 2021 National Qualifications results.  This should include the ability to dispute a teacher or centre-estimated grade and to challenge a failure to make reasonable adjustments, as required under the Equality Act 2010.

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