Trusting teacher assessment is only viable alternative to exams

Iain Gray MSP has called on John Swinney to explain why Education Scotland and the SQA badly bungled the transition to online learning this week and has demanded that the SNP accept that trusting teacher assessment is the only viable alternative to exams.

Speaking in the chamber in response to the Ministerial Statement on Covid-19 and education, Iain Gray MSP said:

“It is clear that teachers have worked hard over recent months in preparation for a sudden shift to remote learning, and that they were ready with materials and programmes for their pupils to continue learning at home.

“But many will feel that they have been let down by the national platforms on which they thought they could rely – most notably a widespread software failure.

“But there were also problems with the flagship E-sgoil platform.  One head teacher told me that pupils logging in did not get the lessons advertised, that links did not work, and that in any case most subjects are still not covered.

“Then the SQA lived down to expectation by publishing an assessment update on their update, promising another update to come, still looking for two to four assessments to be done; even suggesting teachers might invigilate these remotely; presumably using the IT which at that time was not working.

“Why did Education Scotland not fully stress test the IT they were recommending for schools well in advance?

“Is the E-sgoil offer fixed today and will it expand to all subjects?

“And isn’t it time to accept that trusting teacher assessments is the only viable alternative to exams in the circumstances we face, and give teachers, pupils and parents some clarity now?”