John Swinney, The Deputy First Minister, has announced a number of measures for the awarding of National Courses at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher in 2020-21

NSEAD welcomes the decision announced by Deputy First Minister, John Swinney on 7th October to cancel external assessment of National 5 courses in session 2020 20201and to modify some aspects of course assessment at Higher and Advanced Higher in response to the ongoing disruption caused by Covid -19, with the exam diet starting two weeks later than originally planned. 

In particular, introducing further optionality into the Higher Art and Design question paper by requiring candidates to choose to respond to either the Expressive Art Studies or Design Studies section without impact on the weighting of this element of the assessment will free up learning and teaching time, allowing departments to take a more focused approach to exam preparation. Similarly the quantity of evidence for assessment at Advanced Higher has been reduced.  

Guidance on a more concise approach to the Higher practical portfolios that will still gives candidates the opportunity to access all available marks, is also welcomed and we look forward to receiving visual exemplars of how this will look in practice so centres can feel confident that a slimmer submission will not disadvantage their candidates.  

With assessment at National 5 being based on coursework and teacher judgements, centres will be focusing on working with learners and colleagues to gather appropriate evidence for a fair and consistent assessment so that pupils, parents and staff can be confident in their achievements in 2020 2021.


Patricia Brown

Vice President NSEAD, South Lanarkshire