South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper has welcomed news from the Scottish Government that Scotland’s approach to educational assessment and qualifications is to be reformed to better allow young people to achieve their full potential.

Ms Harper has welcomed that new qualifications will be developed to ensure learners’ achievements are fairly recognised. In particular, the South Scotland MSP has welcomed the important announcement from the Scottish Government that externally marked exams will remain part of the new assessment approach but will not be the sole marker of educational achievement or ability.

A wide range of views will be sought on the reforms, with young people and teachers informing how the new system will work.

The Scottish Government’s decision to make changes was influenced by:
• the recommendations in the OECD’s independent review of Scotland’s school curriculum which is currently underway;
• renewed debate about assessment following the cancellation, due to COVID-19, of National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams in 2020 and 2021;
• And a paper by renowned academic Professor Gordon Stobart setting out options on Scotland’s future approach to assessment and qualifications

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of disruption for Dumfries and Galloway’s learners – whether they be in primary or secondary school or college or university. However, the pandemic, and in particular the cancellation of national exams, has sparked a nationwide debate on the future approach to qualifications and assessments in Scotland.

“I welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment that it remains a key priority to ensure that Scotland’s approaches to curriculum and assessment are fit for purpose. This will guarantee the best possible educational experience for children and young people, not least as we emerge from the pandemic. I also welcome that the review of examinations and national qualifications will, rightly, be focused on recognising the potential, ability and achievements of Scotland’s learners. We know that many learners do prefer continual assessment, and others prefer traditional examination, so it is right that this review will use evidence to support the needs of learners.

“The Scottish Government will consult on the purpose and principles which should underpin the reform of national qualifications and assessment and a reference group, led by Professor Louise Hayward, Professor of Educational Assessment and Innovation at Glasgow University, will be set up to provide advice to Ministers on the reforms. This will also ensure the voices of young people are heard.

“I look forward to monitoring the progress of these reforms and I will keep constituents updated.”