All Politicians must Support the Effort in Schools

Created on: 02 Jun 2021 | Last modified: 02 Jun 2021

Following the Parliamentary announcement by Shirley Anne Somerville of an appeals system for National Qualifications 2021, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan has called upon politicians and commentators to support the massive effort being made by schools and teachers to deliver qualifications for this year’s students.

Commenting, Mr Flanagan said, "The EIS welcomes that responsibility for handling appeals will rest with the SQA rather than schools - something that we pushed hard to secure, particularly in light of the workload pressures that teachers are under in delivering the alternative certification model.

"We also welcome that the process will not require the payment of fees by those wishing to submit appeals."

Mr Flanagan continued, "There is a quite phenomenal amount of work being undertaken across schools by teaching staff to ensure that young people are appropriately accredited for their learning.

"The three-month lockdown and associated remote learning certainly concertinaed the time available for student production of evidence but ultimately it is that evidence which allows teachers to exercise professional judgement in determining provisional results.

"Although some schools have made use of SQA assessment instruments, teachers are able to draw on whatever evidence they regard as valid in determining grades.

"Also, unlike high-stake exams, the evidence does not need to be produced in a one-off event and crucially, the professional judgment of teachers will not be challenged by the SQA – this was a critical point which the EIS successfully argued for as part of the ACM model."

He added, "Teachers, schools and local authorities have engaged also in a rigorous quality assurance activity to ensure that standards are understood and applied equitably across the country, ensuring that students can be confident in the validity of their qualifications."

Mr Flanagan concluded, "For many students, however, the key issue around grades is access to the next stage of their learning and more needs to be done to ensure that Universities, Colleges and indeed employers recognise the difficult year it has been and ensure that progression is not stymied for the want of a particular grade."