THE Education Secretary has said that a “sensitive approach” to grading will be in place for this year’s exams.

This comes amid fears that strikes by teachers may have an impact on pupils’ performance.

Shirley-Anne Somerville said “mitigations” put in place by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to help students deal with disruption caused by Covid will continue into this year.

The SNP MSP for Dunfermline said this had been planned in case of “ongoing impacts” from coronavirus, and will also “help to mitigate disruption arising from the industrial action”.

The National:

Most pupils in Scotland lost five days of schooling because of strikes by teachers in a dispute over pay, but in some areas – including in the constituencies of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Somerville – teaching unions took additional targeted action.

Raising the issue in Holyrood, Labour MSP Pauline McNeill told how worried students had contacted her and other members of her party.

She said: “Some Scottish Labour MSPs, including myself, have been contacted by pupils themselves who are worried about how this will affect their performance in exams and how exactly the SQA will take this into account.”

She asked Somerville what measures will be in place for this year’s exams to help pupils who have been “adversely affected by targeted strike action”.

The minister said the SQA had already confirmed that measures introduced for the 2022 exams would be repeated this year.

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The Education Secretary said: “These modifications vary by subject and level and include the reduction of course assessment, requiring less coursework than in a normal year and leaving more time for teaching and learning.

“The SQA has also confirmed that a sensitive approach to grading is planned, dependent on the impact of any disruption on exam and coursework performance.

“While implemented to acknowledge the ongoing impacts of Covid, these measures will also help to mitigate disruption arising from the industrial action.”

In areas targeted with additional strike action, she said two out of three high schools had managed to open “to some extent” when teachers walked out.

Somerville said: “The schools, our local authorities and our agencies are working hard to ensure we are providing support not just to those in the targeted areas but right across Scotland.”