National Qualifications 2021 Group – Disruption to Learning – Parent/carer message

Monday 10th May 2021

The National Qualifications 2021 Group* appreciates that you may have concerns regarding the levels of disruption to your child’s learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effects this will have on gathering the evidence that their teachers or lecturers need to determine provisional results for National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher.

Flexibility in gathering learner evidence

Provisional results in 2021 will be based on teachers and lecturers using learners’ evidence of their knowledge, skills and understanding of their course. For teachers and lecturers to do this, your child will need to complete tests or assessments set by their school, college or training provider.

The key difference between the formal SQA exam diet, which was cancelled for 2021, and the assessments that your child will take in their school, college or training provider is the flexibility around how and when assessments take place. This means that, as far as possible, there is maximum opportunity for your child to undertake the required learning and be given the best chance to succeed in their course assessments.

The flexibility available to teachers and lecturers this year means that the opportunities for gathering evidence do not need to be solely based on one assessment. Schools, colleges and training providers are being encouraged to make use of this flexibility in gathering the right quality of assessment evidence that shows learners’ knowledge, skills and understanding of their course.

Schools, colleges and training providers also need to provide additional assessment arrangements, as they would under normal circumstances, for those learners who are disabled or have identified additional support needs.

Summary of steps taken to address disruption to learning

A number of steps have been taken to support teachers and lecturers and to help ensure as many learners as possible can generate the assessment evidence required to decide their provisional results. This includes:

  • removing assignments and reducing content in many National Courses
  • giving schools, colleges and training providers more time to submit learners’ provisional results
  • enhancing the e-Sgoil E-learning offer to support learners who for a variety of reasons have experienced extreme disruption to their learning
  • offering a small number of learners, who have completed their course but who have been unable to complete all the required evidence, the option to receive their Scottish Qualifications Certificate at a later date.

What to do next

If your child’s personal circumstances have resulted in extreme disruption to their learning, including if they are or have been shielding, their school, college or training provider should use the flexibility available to them to consider the best way to generate sufficient assessment evidence and discuss the most appropriate options with you and your child.

To stay up to date on National Qualifications for 2021 visit

National Qualifications 2021 Group

* The National Qualifications 2021 Group is represented by the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES), Colleges Scotland, Education Scotland, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), School Leaders Scotland (SLS), the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS), Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), the Scottish Government, National Parent Forum of Scotland, and the Scottish Youth Parliament.