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Update On School Closures And Exams

20th March 2020

Exams will not go ahead, teaching, learning and support can continue with local flexibility.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has updated Parliament on the decision to close schools and confirmed that:

the exam diet will not go ahead this year. The Scottish Qualifications Authority will put in place a certification model using coursework, teacher assessment of estimated grades and prior attainment

local authorities are taking measures to protect vulnerable children who rely on schools for hot meals or a safe and supportive environment

children of key workers will have continuing access to learning or childcare

Mr Swinney said:"My priorities are to ensure the health and wellbeing of our children, young people and staff, and to maintain teaching and learning wherever this is possible, guided by the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and public health experts.

"Teaching, learning and support will continue - albeit in different ways for different groups of children. For the majority, this will be through distance learning and online learning, with different forms of on-going contact with teachers rather than in-school, face-to-face. Teachers and other staff who are well will continue to be working.

"For vulnerable children and those who have parents or carers employed as key workers, local authorities are developing approaches to support them. We will not cut adrift vulnerable young people who often rely on school life for hot meals or for a safe, nurturing and supportive environment.

“Parents are not expected to be a teacher or to recreate the school day - your school will be giving you some resources and suggestions as your first port of call.

“It is a measure of the gravity of the challenge we now face that the exams will not go ahead this year. With the support of the wider education system, a credible certification model can be put in place in the that can command confidence in the absence of the exam diet - to ensure that young people in our schools and colleges who through no fault of their own are unable to sit exams, are not disadvantaged."

The SQA will develop a certification model to replace the exam diet. Pupils in S4-S6 with coursework for national qualifications to complete will be informed by their schools how to complete this.

Local authorities will put in place appropriate arrangements to support vulnerable children and those who have parents or carers employed as key workers - this may include exceptional provision to continue to attend school or local childcare that the local authority put in place. Those with complex additional support needs who are learning and living in residential special schools will continue to receive the care and support they require and any long-term health conditions will be taken into account.

Local authorities are also being encouraged to work with local childcare providers in the private and third sectors to ensure ongoing provision to enable key workers to remain in work. Funding will continue to allow contractual payments to private and third sector providers, including childminders, for statutory early learning and childcare hours to continue. This is worth £220 million to the childcare sector in 2020-21.

A £70 million food fund from the support package for communities announced yesterday will support access to food, including provision of free school meals. Pupil Equity Funding will be relaxed to allow headteachers and local authorities to support the most vulnerable childrens' needs during this time.

Local authorities can deploy the 2020-21 uplift in funding for the 1140 hours expansion as flexibly as is needed to support families and childcare providers during this period.

Key workers are those who work in posts which ensure that essential services can be delivered, or those who cover tasks within the local community which support the vulnerable and aid community resilience. The exact definition will vary based on local needs.

The Student Awards Agency Scotland will endeavour to continue to fund students on time, and students will be updated throughout. The Further and Higher Education Minister is working closely with the Scottish Funding Council, college and university principals and unions.

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