Helensburgh’s MSP has called for clarity over the 2020-21 exam diet in local secondary schools.

Jackie Baillie made the plea after Scotland’s ‘curriculum and assessment board’ said its preferred option was for next year’s National 5 exams to be replaced by continuous assessment because of the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The board also warned that courses could be streamlined, that there could be restrictions in the choice of subjects available and that some pupils may sit subjects over two years rather than one.

But the Scottish Government says its expectation is that next year’s exams will take place as normal.

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Ms Baillie said: “Parents, pupils and teachers deserve answers on what the future of their learning and teaching will look like.

“The current chaos in Scotland’s schools due to the Scottish Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis risks making the already serious attainment gap worse, and we can’t afford more chaos and confusion around National 5 exams.

“Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are disproportionately more likely to leave after sitting their National 5s.

“Decisions taken by ministers now could seriously affect not just the credibility of National 5 qualifications, but also the employment prospects of those sitting them.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Planning for the 2021 examination diet is under way and our expectation is that it will take place.

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“Consideration will be given to slightly delaying the exam diet to provide more learning and teaching opportunities for senior phase candidates, in addition to any other flexibilities and contingencies which may need to be in place to accommodate prevailing public health advice.

“Discussions about exams will continue to take place as part of the work of the Education Recovery Group.

“Decisions will be based on the best assessment of current public health advice and what impact this may have on the operation of schools next year.

“Circumstances have changed since the paper referred to was written, and the Education Recovery Group will take this into consideration.”

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