Tue 31 Aug, 2021

We have the opportunity now to ditch this Victorian-era model of high stakes end of term exams and move towards systems of ongoing assessment which more accurately and fairly measure a pupil’s knowledge and abilities. Ross Greer

A review of Scotland’s system of exams and assessments by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has recommended a shift in focus away from high stakes testing, in line with a key Scottish Greens’ manifesto policy.

The Scottish system of exams should be ‘refined’ to give a greater role to teacher-led assessments and vocational learning, according to the international body. 

The report highlights the fact that UK education systems have remained rooted in Victorian ideas of education, which has meant a high-stakes testing model in upper secondary “often inhibited changes to teaching and learning”.

The report concludes: “The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 illustrated the fragility of those systems that are largely dependent on terminal examinations for secondary school students.”

Scottish Greens education spokesperson Ross Greer said: “This report, secured by the Greens following last year’s SQA exams shambles, is most welcome and endorses our long-held policies for school assessments. The chaos of the exam cancellations during COVID exposed an assessments system which has inequality baked in and where high achieving working class young people are viewed with suspicion. That must change.

“As it stands, Scotland has an exams system which doesn’t match the curriculum. This means that Curriculum for Excellence essentially stops in S4 as teachers are forced to ‘teach to the test’. We have the opportunity now to ditch this Victorian-era model of high stakes end of term exams and move towards systems of ongoing assessment which more accurately and fairly measure a pupil’s knowledge and abilities.

“As part of our co-operation agreement with the government we have committed to a process of reform, including scrapping the failed SQA and creating 5,000 new teaching posts, so pupils can get more individual support and give teachers more non-contact time to prepare quality lessons.”

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