In schools and colleges the length and breadth of the country, teachers and lecturers are straining hard to support young people through the final stages of their National Qualifications within what has become a very truncated timescale due to the most recent lockdown.

There’s no doubt that what’s being faced at the moment in Secondary schools and College Departments by staff and students alike is hugely challenging, particularly with the complexities posed by Covid still in play. Yet amidst it all, teachers and lecturers are striving to do what they’ve always done- that is, their best, for the young people that they teach.

EIS position around key principles of the ACM

Professional judgement- from the outset and after the experiences of last year, we’ve asserted the principles of teacher professional judgement and the professional trust of teachers.

The EIS is clear on its trust of teacher judgement and the need for the system as a whole to share that trust. We see teacher professional judgement supported by collaboration among colleagues, as being central to the ACM process and we envisage a longer-term transition to approaches to senior phase assessment that have teacher professional judgement at the heart.

Moderation- in terms of collaboration, as well as enhancing the strength of these judgements, collaboration around the moderation of assessment provides teachers with a degree of protection from pressure from students and parents or carers in relation to candidate results. Of course, collaboration needs time and schools and local authorities should have been working together to create the time necessary for teachers to undertake the necessary moderation. We know that LNCTs have agreed approaches to local moderation that are proportionate and manageable, and which will maximise the use of the additional and remaining inset days for this purpose.

Demonstrated attainment- the EIS has also supported the premise that professional judgements should be based on evidence of learners’ demonstrated attainment. Again, this offers a protection to teachers who are making judgements and reflects the views of young people who were aggrieved last session at the use of the algorithm which didn’t take into account the assessment evidence that they themselves had produced, in determining their grades. The fairness principle is also at play here.

Assessment approaches- in terms of how candidate evidence is generated, the EIS has been consistently of the view that schools shouldn’t be running their own high stakes exam diets in lieu of the SQA diet.

The ACM has afforded flexibility to schools in designing their approaches to assessment in the interests of maximising time for learning, teaching and sound assessment, and in the interests of safety, the wellbeing of students, minimising inequity and managing teacher workload.

The EIS shares the view expressed by many recently that the scheduling of exam diets undermines these aims to a fair extent, especially when they’re being run early in the term when we should be seeing continuing support for young people around wellbeing and consolidation of their learning. We would like to have seen assessment take pace as late in the term as possible.

It was for this reason that we pushed for an extended deadline for submission of Provisional Results in order that young people would have the best chance to succeed in spite of the difficult circumstances of this academic year.

Contingencies for incomplete evidence- latterly in the NQ Group discussions, the focus has been on extreme disruption to learning. Some of our members have been very concerned about the disproportionate impact of Covid disruption on certain groups of young people – for example, those who’ve had to self-isolate multiple times or who have been absent for Covid related reasons during this term and who are likely to be missing a piece of the evidence needed to complete- so we’ve been exploring with colleagues on the groups how we might address this.

One outcome of these discussions has been an enhanced offer from Esgoil where schools can refer young people at risk of non-completion for a bit of extra support either during the school day or after depending on circumstances. Head Teachers have received information about this.

The Group has now agreed that a further contingency will be a second certification window early in September for learners who have been extremely disrupted and who are unable to complete all of their assessments in time for 25th June, in order that as many young people as possible will be certificated for the work they’ve done this academic session.

Delivering the ACM Webinar

The EIS recently hosted a webinar focused on delivering the Alternative Certification Model, involving the Chief Executive of the SQA and colleagues. The full webinar and a series of clips featuring individual questions from members are available to view on the website at: