18 March 2020
The Qualifications Contingency Group met yesterday to consider the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on the 2020 examination timetable, and wider qualifications certification. The Group, chaired by the Scottish Government, and with membership drawn from across the education system, agreed that it was dealing with a very serious and evolving situation.
The Scottish Government and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) fully appreciates the concerns of learners, parents and carers, schools and colleges. In the event of school closures, the Qualifications Contingency Group agreed that every effort should be made to ensure schools remain partially open to allow Senior Phase pupils to complete learning and be able to submit coursework, in addition to being able to open as examination centres during the diet, should medical and scientific advice allow.
As you would expect, the SQA is working through a range of scenarios, including in the event that there is significant disruption to the diet. In the meantime, we strongly suggest that schools and colleges continue to prioritise the completion of coursework, including for those subjects with later deadlines.
Our exceptional circumstances service, which allows a school or college who believe that a candidate has suffered, for example bereavement or illness during exams, or has been self-isolating, to inform us of the circumstances and submit alternative evidence of attainment demonstrated by the candidate, will be available. Schools and colleges should be gathering any alternative evidence on candidate performance as they would do in the normal way, and as per our guidance every year, to support any consideration of exceptional circumstances. There is a range of alternative assessment evidence that we can take into account, which can include coursework, class or other assessments. This evidence should inform estimated grades, again as it should every year.
Markers and invigilators play a critical role in the delivery of Scottish qualifications and their continued support, together with the support of schools and colleges, will be particularly important this year. Currently, marker recruitment is on track and we have additional reserves, if needed. We are reviewing all procedural meetings with a view to using remote methods of delivery wherever possible, and will be communicating directly with individual subject teams to provide further details.
We recognise that some of our invigilators may not be able to work with us this year, and we will be working with schools and colleges to put in place alternative arrangements for invigilation where needed, in line with our current contingency arrangements for invigilation.
We are also strongly encouraging all candidates to sign up to MySQA, our online and text service, as a direct way to receive their results.
The Scottish Government and SQA will continue to review the latest evidence, in consultation with members of the Qualifications Contingency Group, and will communicate further updates as necessary.
The Qualifications Contingency Group is invoked in circumstances where there is a system wide risk to the delivery of the exam diet and awarding of qualifications.
The group seeks to ensure the sharing of information and intelligence between partners; promote collective leadership to help ensure the safe and secure delivery of the exam diet and awarding of qualifications and agree a joint approach to communications to allow learners, parents and carers, schools and colleges and wider stakeholders to receive clear and accurate messages in a timely manner.
The meeting was chaired by the Scottish Government, with senior representation from the Scottish Qualifications Authority; School Leaders Scotland; Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS); the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES); College Development Network (CDN); Colleges Scotland (CS); Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS); Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS); and Universities Scotland.