Exams set to be scrapped for 15 and 16-year-olds in Scotland


PLANS to scrap the traditional end-of-year exams for 15 and 16-year-olds in Scotland are expected to be unveiled before the school summer holidays.

A review of secondary school assessment ordered by the Scottish Government is widely anticipated to recommend ditching the intense exam diet currently required to achieve National 5 qualifications, according to an exclusive report in The Times this morning.

Instead, pupils are likely to be judged on coursework alongside a “Scottish diploma” which recognises extra curricular activities such as attending the Girl Guides or Scouts, playing sport and volunteering.

The plans, which look set to transform the school exams system which has existed across the UK since O-levels were introduced in 1951, are likely to divide opinion. 

Some experts favour a shift away from the stress of exams which can result in pupils rote learning answers, rather than broadening their understanding of concepts and applying skills.

However, others warn a much greater emphasis on coursework disadvantages pupils who fail to receive help at home from parents and creates greater workload for teachers. 

It is also not known how adolescents who cheat by using increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence programmes to write their essays will be detected.

Louise Hayward, an expert on educational assessment at Edinburgh University, is chairing the review of secondary school qualifications and is due to report her final recommendations within the next fortnight, according to the newspaper.

Exams for fifth and sixth-year pupils who are applying to university are expected to remain. However there are concerns about the reputational damage to Scottish education without rigorous, externally moderated examinations.

Currently, pupils face official graded exams at the end of their fourth, fifth and sixth year of high school in Scotland.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Professor Hayward’s final report will be published shortly. The recommendations will be carefully considered and the Scottish Government will respond in due course.”

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