SQA 2024 – 90% of Teachers say their Pupils are not ready

Following the SQA announcement that National Qualifications course assessments in session 2023-24 will return to full requirements – including reinstating coursework and exam assessment and the National 4 added value unit - the SSTA sought views of members. In responding to the survey, secondary teachers who are delivering national qualifications were clearly opposed to a full return. More than 2,000 members have responded in a week with the survey closing on Friday.
Seamus Searson, General Secretary said.
“The initial results indicate that 90% of teachers believe that their pupils are not ready for a full return of exam requirements. The damage to pupils’ learning and the task for teachers in trying bridge the gap cannot be underestimated, and to make more changes to qualifications when the whole qualification system is about to change is at best foolhardy and at worst negligent”.
“The SQA is to be abolished and a new body established in 2024.  This is the SQA’s last attempt to take control and is not about putting the pupils front and centre. The SQA has ignored the impact of the pandemic upon pupils and teachers and is set upon its own agenda which is more concerned about cementing its position in the education landscape”.
“Teachers do remember the damage caused by the SQA when it introduced the Alternative Certification Model (ACM) in 2020 which put considerable stress and workload pressure on pupils and teachers in the middle of a pandemic. It was also the SQA that created the grading fiasco that resulted in a confidence vote and potential resignation of the DFM. These are other examples of the SQA not listening to the profession, the teachers in schools. Hopefully the SQA will listen this time”.
“The survey did show that there was a willingness in some subjects and at some levels to introduce a phased change to the current arrangements to improve the opportunities of some pupils. The SQA response seems to ignore the impact of covid and assumes that everything is back to normal. Further details of the subjects and levels to follow the close of the survey”.
SSTA members have said.
“To return to pre pandemic course structure would be a major concern! The majority of our students really struggled to meet deadlines this session and this includes our very able pupils! We simply don’t have enough class contact time next session to go back, I believe there will be even more blank spaces in pupils folios and to return to full courses content pupil grades will decline even more”.
“This is a ridiculous decision by the SQA. It is likely to tip many teachers and pupils over the edge as far as workload issues and stress are concerned. In the past I have worked for the SQA as a marker. I feel unable to do this anymore as I no longer want to be in any way associated with a dictatorial and unsympathetic employer”.
“Teachers are about to embrace study leave and yet again we are left wondering if time has to be spent planning or a full course return as this will mean making new resources and altering timeliness etc”.
“I hope the SQA listen to the views of teachers and act on our feedback. Another year keeping course content as it is would he in the best interest for all involved”.
“As a Guidance Teacher we see the effect of SQA exams on the health and wellbeing of pupils. It’s too much for pupils. Too much change. It would be better to wait until the Hayward Review is complete”.
“Bringing back elements at Higher and Advanced Higher when staff have been stretched and unable to cover the relevant work for the last two years is unrealistic. It could be reintroduced at N5 this year, Higher the following session and Advanced Higher the session after that. It is an unfair demand of Higher and AH pupils this year”.
“Fine with full requirement for National 5, but not Higher and Adv Higher, this would need to be a staggered approach due to the nature of courses i.e. can't fully reinstate topics across all course since prior learning at previous course level has not occurred”.
“The pandemic has impacted on subjects being taught in BGE to truly prepare students with the skills for Senior Phase. This BGE moving into Senior Phase has had a heavily disrupted BGE and not had the opportunity to fully develop skills in preparation for Senior Phase. SQA need to take that into account. There is no spare months to allow catch up. Particularly for practical subjects”.
“The removal of the writing assignment at Higher and NAT 5 level had been the latest change to the course and was not one which I believed added any value. It only meant additional teaching time being spent on the preparation and assessment of this component. It was a pointless and time-consuming exercise for pupils and teachers with no benefit to pupil learning. This has further strengthened the lack of confidence and respect I feel for the SQA. I appreciate the SSTA prompt response to this announcement”.
Please note: 53% of respondents have marked or are markers for the SQA with only 35% intending to mark for the SQA in the future.

The Survey will close on Friday 28 April with a full report to follow.