Results day is tomorrow, and it’s always an anxious time for young people.
But this year’s decision to cancel exams – and the lack of transparency around how that decision was made – has made 2020 exceptionally difficult for young people.
We’ve talked about it with young people ourselves – they’ve told us how they’re feeling – so we know how much anxiety and uncertainty they’re experiencing.
And evidence like our Independent Children’s Rights Impact Assessment has found there are groups of young people who are at disproportionate risk of being disadvantaged by exams being cancelled.
Those who are home schooled. Those living in poverty. Those with disabilities and other additional support needs.
Many young people who are being assessed this year are at risk of being disadvantaged by SQA results, compared to those who were able to sit exams in other years.
There’s still time to make sure that this year’s learners aren’t disadvantaged by SQA results…
We’re calling again on the SQA and Scottish Government to make sure that young people getting their results tomorrow aren’t disadvantaged.
It’s not too late. They can put together an appeals process which is transparent, fair and directly accessible to young people.
It should be a process that accounts for the risk of discrimination, and which makes sure no young person is discriminated against in the final results they receive.
…but the process so far has not been rights respecting
No Children’s Rights Impact Assessment was made before cancelling exams
The SQA and Scottish Government didn’t do a Children’s Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) before the cancellation of this year’s exams. As well as this, SQA’s Equalities Impact Assessment hasn’t been published.
We now understand that a CRIA has been conducted. But it also won’t be published until after the exam results are released.
Our office has told the SQA and Scottish Government that we’re concerned about this failure to properly consider children’s human rights, and about the lack of information and transparency around the decisions.
It isn’t clear how negative impacts on young people will be mitigated
It’s not clear how the SQA will make sure the negative impacts of exam cancellation on young people aren’t as bad as they could be.
Action has to be taken now if young people’s human rights are to be respected.
Ever since it was made, we’ve been critical of how the decision to cancel exams was arrived at and communicated.
Children and young people haven’t been directly involved in decisions
Although cancelling exams is a decision which affects young people more than anyone, children and young people weren’t directly involved in making it. They also weren’t involved in decisions around the new methods of assessment which have been adopted.
Under pressure, systems have not treated children and young people as active agents in their own lives and respected their rights.
If we want Scotland to be a rights respecting society and be the best place for children to grow up then we need to include them, stand with them and support them to make that happen.
We can’t do it without them, and nor should we try.
Addressing your worries and concerns
If you’re a young person who’s anxious or concerned about results day , Young Scot has information and emotional support on their website which you may find helpful.
And if you’re worried you’ve been disadvantaged by the cancellation of exams you should speak to your school or college in the first instance.
We will be continuing our work to ensure that schools, the SQA and the Scottish Government don’t disadvantage anyone through the way that assessments have been done during the pandemic and to make sure that young people’s achievements are properly recognised.
Young people who are continuing at school, going on to further or higher education or other training, or looking to join the workforce should all receive additional support over the coming weeks and months to ensure that they are able to develop to their full potential.