A FOURTH year pupil has hit out at the SQA after claiming controversial new assessments in place of exams have affected his mental health.

Euan MacLeod, 16, attends Lourdes Secondary School in Cardonald and has claimed pupils received little warning of when these tests would take place and does not feel he and his peers were given enough time to prepare. He said: “We were given a timetable, detailing our assessments, however it failed to mention specific dates.

"We were told between one and two weeks prior to us sitting out assessments depending on each subject.”

Glasgow Times: Euan MacLeod, a fourth year pupil at Lourdes Secondary School. Pics: Colin MearnsEuan MacLeod, a fourth year pupil at Lourdes Secondary School. Pics: Colin Mearns

The formal exam diet was cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and teachers were told grades would be based on their judgement with evidence to back it up which, at most schools, has been done through assessments.

But Euan claims these assessments have been done under exam conditions, with little notice or support such as study leave in place. He added: “We are expected to sit all of these assessments without study leave.

“For instance, we are expected to sit a maths paper one exam with one week prior notice without the additional support expected if we were sitting a proper exam.”

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Euan says the new assessments brought in by the SQA to replace exams which were cancelled this year have caused he and his peers “undue stress.” He said: “The most impactful part of all of this is seeing my peers suffer and experience undue stress - stresses of studies which should be the least of our concerns in the middle of a pandemic.

“However, also for me, it has been an incredibly stressful time, juggling the stresses of studies and life in a pandemic.”

The youngster, who plans to attend the University of Edinburgh to study Law and International relations claimed that pupils have had to sit several assessments in one day.

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He is worried about the impact this may have on his future. He added: “These assessments have a major impact on my final grades for national 5, which is not just unfair but wrong due to the disruption caused by the pandemic for students up and down the country. I am worried that this will affect the choices I am able to pick next year, causing a chain reaction.

These assessments have caused havoc and children and teachers are lacking clarity, because of this I can see this impacting and affecting not only the grades in subjects but the confidence pupils have in such subjects.”

Glasgow Times:

The Glasgow Times approached teachers union EIS for comment however general secretary Larry Flanagan told our sister paper, the Sunday National the union was “well aware of the pressure on young people” and is calling on schools to maximise teaching time and “avoid high-stakes one-off assessment arrangements”.

He added: “Teachers are working flat out to support students in achieving qualifications this year, despite the challenges of the pandemic.”

Glasgow Times:

The SQA has claimed that the assessment arrangements are up to individual schools to decide. A spokesman said: “We fully appreciate that this is a challenging time for learners across Scotland. The National Qualifications 2021 Group, which includes the representation from across the education system, co-created this year’s alternative certification model.

“The Group has been clear that there is no requirement to replicate a full formal exam or prelim diet this year and that results need to be based on demonstrated attainment by assessment in a flexible way to suit local circumstances.

“SQA has provided a flexible and consistent framework for schools and colleges this year, including detailed guidance, material and support, based on assessment standards that teachers and lecturers are familiar with.

“The National Qualifications Group has been clear that this year’s alternative certification model is based on teacher and lecturer judgement, with evidence of demonstrated attainment used to support that professional judgement.”