Teaching unions in Scotland have praised the efforts of pupils and teachers amid the coronavirus pandemic following the publication of this year’s exam results.
Scotland’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS), said pupils’ achievements should be celebrated as their exam diet was cancelled for the second year running due to the pandemic, with results based on teacher-graded assessments.
Results were down on last year but rose significantly compared to 2019, with a marked jump in A-grades.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Scotland’s young people have endured a particularly difficult period over the past year, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic creating many challenges in all aspects of their lives including their education.
“The late decision to cancel the exam diet and to move to the Alternative Certification Model (ACM) inevitably created additional pressures on students, but it is clear that Scotland’s young people have performed exceptionally well in the most trying of circumstances and they can be extremely proud of all that they have achieved.
“The additional pressure and workload created by the late move to adopt the ACM, compounded by a three-month lockdown, placed a particularly heavy burden on teachers and lecturers, and they deserve sincere thanks for their absolute commitment to ensuring that young people could receive the grades that they deserved.”
He said there will be “lessons to learn” from the experience this year and said the union is looking forward to replacement of the Scotland’s exam body, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).
Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said the Scottish Government’s decision to replace the SQA “risks yet more uncertainty for students and teachers and will have a significant impact on the process of awarding qualifications in 2022”.
He added: “Students, teachers and school leaders have worked extremely hard to secure this year’s results in the face of unique and hugely difficult circumstances.
“School staff deserve recognition of the huge pressures and additional workload they have faced in producing centre assessed grades and young people deserve praise for the tenacity they have shown in dealing with the huge uncertainties and anxieties of the last 18 months.
“The challenges of the awarding process this year were significantly exacerbated by the Government’s and SQA’s chaotic and disjointed handling of this year’s arrangements for the awarding of qualifications.
“Whilst schools have done a tremendous job in picking up the pieces caused by the failures of ministers and SQA, many teachers were left running on empty with teacher workload at breaking point at the end of last term. We cannot afford a repeat of this confusion and chaos for yet another year.”
He said mitigations, such as reduced subject content, will be required in 2022.