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MSPs welcome exams decision


By Alan Beresford

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THE decision to scrap exams this year in the face of the coronavirus onslaught has been welcomed by local MSPs.

Education secretary John Swinney made the announcement after previously confirming schools were to shut in a bid to help contain Covid-19. It is the first time national exams have ever been cancelled in Scotland.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said: “The decision to cancel school exams is a measure of the seriousness of the situation we face.

“I know it has been no easy decision, but I hope that this announcement today will provide some clarity to parents and children in the north-east.

“If anyone has specific concerns please get in touch with me or my office- we stand ready to help anyone affected. Help and advice is also available for parents and carers concerned with Children’s 1st offering an online and telephone support at 08000 28 22 33 or www.children1st.org.uk/parentline.”

Commenting on the announcement, his Moray colleague Richard Lochhead said: “The Deputy First Minister’s [John Swinney] statement confirmed that like most other countries affected by coronavirus our schools and nurseries must now close to most young people.

“This is to help prevent the spread of the virus and also because of the rising absence of staff and pupils. Arrangements will be put in place for the children of key workers, and to ensure those who need additional support receive it.

“The cancellation of school exams for the first time in history will understandably leave pupils in Moray shocked and very anxious about what this means for their future.

“It is important for pupils and families to know that an alternative means of certification is going to be put in place to ensure that no young person loses out.

“Our young people deserve to receive the qualifications they have worked so hard for and recognition of their effort. Teachers and staff and the authorities are now working together to ensure that no pupil is left at a disadvantage.

“As the parent of two boys, one of whom is studying for his Highers, and another in primary seven who may or be returning to his school after this week, I am acutely aware of what this means for many families and pupils. No-one wanted to this to happen but it is the right decision on health grounds and to help save lives.

“Every school age child in Moray is set to be affected and it is essential that the Government and local councils work together to ensure appropriate support is in place for everyone."

Shadow education secretary Jamie Halcro Johnston, who is a Highlands and Islands MSP for the Conservatives, added: “It is a measure of the unprecedented nature of this emergency that, for the first time in over a century, the decision has had to be taken to cancel the school exams.

“This will naturally be upsetting for the pupils, their families and the teaching staff concerned, all of whom will have invested so much time and effort in working towards the exams.

“However, we must now look at the alternative forms of assessment available, some of which were outlined by the Cabinet Secretary, and to ensure that the students concerned gain the qualifications and recognition that they need and deserve.

“I am very confident that our teaching staff and educational authorities will rise to the challenge.”

“We all need to rally round to support our young people, families, and staff at this incredibly difficult and tumultuous time.”



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