Young voices at the Scottish Parliament: Our Young Advisers’ session with the Education and Skills Committee


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Three of our Young Advisers – Abigail, Coll and Jonathan – appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee on Wednesday 10 March.

Along with Commissioner Bruce Adamson, they talked about:

  • how the pandemic has affected young people across Scotland, and
  • the ways in which State actions taken in response to Coronavirus didn’t always consider them enough.

In particular, they focused on school closures, exam cancellations and issues around assessment and the impact of the pandemic of mental health, and how decisions around these issues were made without the participation of children or young people― despite affecting them more than anyone else.

The right to be heard

All children and young people have the right to have their views heard and taken seriously in matters that affect them, and UNCRC Incorporation will make this right part of Scots law.

We hope adults in power see the evidence from this Committee session as an example of why seeking young people’s views is so important, and of the problems that can occur when their experiences aren’t considered or taken seriously.

Issues around assessment

Lack of clarity and consistency from the SQA

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No Children’s Rights Impact Assessment around exam cancellations

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Inconsistency around continuous assessment

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SQA decision to assign grades by algorithm “one of the most damaging”

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Everything coming down to one exam has made things even more stressful for young people

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School closures and returning to school

Returning to a month of exams “has the potential to be hellish”

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We need to recognise impact of lockdown on pupils when schools return

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“If you don’t know what you’re studying for, you don’t know what anything’s going towards”

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Mental health

In-school support for mental health a good thing to see

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There’s not enough understanding of mental health issues among teachers

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