Publication - Minutes

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Qualifications Contingency Group minutes: 17 March 2020

Published: 5 May 2020
Date of meeting: 17 Mar 2020
Date of next meeting: 27 Mar 2020

Minutes from the first meeting of the group on 17 March 2020.

5 May 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Qualifications Contingency Group minutes: 17 March 2020

Attendees and apologies

The meeting was chaired by the Scottish Government, with senior representation from:

  • the Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • School Leaders Scotland
  • the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • College Development Network (CDN)
  • Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS)
  • Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS)
  • Universities Scotland

Items and actions

The first meeting of the Qualifications Contingency Group met today (17 March) to discuss the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the exam diet and awarding of qualifications. SQA updated on current plans for delivering the diet, including contingencies in the event of disruption or delay.

Key points from the discussion included:

  • stakeholders reported extensive questions and concern over both pupil and teacher attendance at the present time
  • agreement that a continued focus should be on delivering the diet at this point, but an appreciation of what may need to be done should circumstances change
  • an agreement on the importance of keeping schools (potentially just for senior phase pupils) open until the Easter break to allow the conclusion of the teaching of the course and the completion of coursework, for those subjects and classes who need it, should public health advice allow
  • it was agreed that the timing, extent and duration of any school closures would be very important in determining any impact on the delivery of the diet
  • an agreement that the group will work jointly on messaging, but that it is important that SQA publishes specific advice on qualifications
  • a need to consider the physical ability (via self-isolation) and the emotional readiness of some pupils to sit exams given current circumstances, and noted the advice issued by Young Scot
  • importance of ensuring Easter revision classes go ahead for those who need them (some are SAC/PEF funded for children living in poverty)
  • a consideration over an approach to focus efforts on pupils in the Senior Phase, both with regards to keeping teaching going and in reopening closed schools to act as exam centres
  • an understanding about the importance of appointees to making the exams system work and whether there should be an explicit prioritisation of ensuring appointees are available
  • a consideration by SQA as to how they may widen the pool of invigilators and appointees. SQA will work with the SG to issue updated and joint communications following the meeting, and will reiterate the commitment to delivering the exam diet

Scottish Government: Learning Directorate
17 March 2020