Exam Reform in Scotland: What Will Change and How It Will Affect Learning

The education system in Scotland is on course for a total shakeup with the Scottish government iconsidering changing the role of exams as a framework for gauging students' performances

THE overall education system in Scotland is on course for a total shakeup. The Scottish government is seriously considering changing the role of exams as a framework for gauging students’ performances. In particular, a new framework may include achievements outside the classroom when assessing learners’ academic capacity. However, nothing is final, as a review of the situation by Professor Louise Hayward of Glasgow University should determine how to proceed with the changes in education.

In addition, several surveys across the country indicate people want assessments and examinations to change. Yet, these evaluations do not show whether people are for or against the changes proposed by the government.

Reason for Action

Two reports triggered the need to reform exams in Scotland. The first one is the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) report by Professor Gordon Stobart, which presents a roadmap for alternate options for qualifications and assessments within the country. A report by Angela Morgan reached a similar conclusion and highlighted the need to support students. Furthermore, the input from the OECD concerning the cancellation of examinations played a role in this consideration.

What may Change

If these proposals are implemented, a lot may change within the Scottish educational system. As the government claims, the reform should seek to achieve the following.

  • Recognition of learners’ achievements;
  • A fair opportunity for students to highlight the dimensions of what they have learned;
  • Cover Gaelic Medium Education and English Medium;
  • Create certainty for students and educators.
  • Maintain credibility and integrity of the qualifications awarded to students.

Likewise, Education Scotland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) may be replaced by new organizations. These changes have been accepted by the government and were proposed in the report developed by Professor Ken Muir.

On the other hand, students and parents will likely have more input on how you prepare your exams in the coming years. The reason for this assertion is that Professor Hayward is mandated to collect and use the opinions from learners and parents, which will be pulled from the National Parent Forum of Scotland and Connect and the Scottish Youth Parliament.

This review should factor in the use of technology in determining students’ capacity. Also, it may highlight how a qualification can present the achievements and strengths of learners. Professor Hayward believes this reform will help students grow economically, culturally, and socially. Although she will consider the input from learners and parents, Professor Hayward will ultimately present the final report to the Scottish government on what needs to be done for the future of local education.

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How Will it Affect Learning

The outcome of these reforms cannot be determined until after a few years of implementation. Nonetheless, experts like Professor Hayward, Professor Gordon, Professor Ken, and Angela Morgan believe these changes will have a positive effect on education in the country. They think that students will be assessed based on standards that are more personal, fair, and compatible with the modern world. In addition, these experts believe the evidence they have gathered suggests changes to existing assessments will positively impact the qualifications and awards students achieve. Also, they project that these reforms should have a ripple effect on college stay, employment, and the overall life of students.

Yet, many critics argue these changes are the ploy of the current ruling party to distract people from their failures. They believe these reforms may degrade the quality of education offered in Scotland. In turn, the country will lag behind other nations in the educational sector. However, most students and parents are not sure what needs to be done and how the changes may affect the future of education in the country.


The education system in Scotland is gearing up for a considerable overhaul. Such reforms were ignited by the effects of exam cancellations in successive years. Also, the government will likely implement these changes as it anticipates a comprehensive report from researchers who will receive input from students and parents. Experts believe these changes will improve education in Scotland by presenting a dynamic approach to assessment and qualification that highlights strengths. On the other hand, critics believe that said developments will negatively affect the educational system in the country. However, the impact of these reforms will not be known until a few years after implementation.

About the Author

Ruby Butz is an education specialist. As such, she is involved with educating kids and teenagers. Ruby also has an understanding of education all around the world, which helps her in writing articles on various academia-centric topics.

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