Scottish Parliament

Health Secretary warned of PTSD risk for frontline workers

NHS workers poster
SNS

Jeane Freeman has been urged to outline plans to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in frontline staff caused by dealing with the pandemic.

Scottish Labour’s health and social care spokeswoman, Monica Lennon, has raised her concerns on the impact of Covid-19 in a letter to the health secretary, saying it is taking an “unprecedented toll” on workers.

“I welcome actions that have been taken so far to provide additional support for both frontline staff and the population in general," she writes. “However, we cannot underestimate the impact on mental health of the strain which many frontline staff are currently experiencing.

“Fears and anxieties over PPE, long working hours and the emotional toll of working with sick patients and care home residents, many of whom will have died from this virus, is taking an unprecedented toll on frontline workers.

“We also know that the long-term impact of this strain can be significant and that many will be at risk of developing PTSD, which can present months or even years after the initial trauma."

Education group planning for next school year

Members of the Scottish Parliament education committee
Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament education committee met via video link

Alasdair Allan MSP suggests to the Scottish Parliament education committee that it could be the autumn before the next school term begins and wonders whether contingency plans are being put in place for that.

Scottish Qualifications Authority chief executive Fiona Robertson admits that there was no "off-the-shelf" contingency plan for the cancellation of this year's exams because the "scale, complexity and challenge" of the current crisis "was unprecedented".

However, she points out that the Scottish government had established its "education recovery group" to start planning for the new school year.

Making 2020 grades 'stand test of time' a challenge

Jamie Greene MSP
Scottish Parliament

During the Scottish Parliament's education committee, Jamie Greene MSP asks how the Scottish Qualifications Authority can ensure that, with exams having been cancelled, grades this year will have the "same value as qualifications in previous years or future years".

Chief examiner Fiona Robertson recognises it is a major challenge but replied: "It is really important that the class of 2020 will get qualifications that will stand the test of time. I believe we can do that."

'Fairness' promise over Scottish exam results

Rona Mackay MSP
Scottish Parliament
Rona Mackay raised concerns over disadvantages some students may face

Pupils and students have been told that "fairness" will be at the forefront of teachers' and lecturers' minds as they assess grades after this year's Scottish exams were cancelled because of the Covid-19 crisis.

Rona Mackay MSP expressed concern to the Scottish Parliament education committee about what weight would be put on a students' circumstances considering some have poor home environments for learning or might be disadvantaged technically or motivationally.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority's Robert Quinn replied that it would be the "quality of the work" and consistency of performance that would be reviewed, "not so much the quantity".

Mr Quinn said a guide for estimating results had been updated, and an online academy launched, to help teachers and lecturers make good decisions and that the feedback had been positive.

We are very clear that no pupil should be disadvantaged if they are unable to complete work after their centres were closed

Robert QuinnScottish Qualifications Authority

Exam grades based 'on all activity throughout the year'

Fiona Robertson
Scottish Parliament

Scotland's chief examiner, Fiona Robertson, has reassured school and college pupils worried that their grades this year will only be based on preliminary exam results or single projects.

Responding to concerns from young people as she addresses the Scottish Parliament's education committee, she stresses that grades will be based on "an overall judgement on all activity throughout the year".

Exams will not be held in Scotland in spring for the first time since 1888, with 138,000 students due to start exams this week.

Ms Robertson says that results will be based on estimated grades that will rely on the professional judgement of teachers and lecturers.

After the 29 May deadline for results, these will be moderated to ensure that "an A in one school is the same as an A in another and so on".

There will be a free appeals service available, with results due to be released on 4 August.

Early release of prisoners will 'ease tensions'

Good Morning Scotland

BBC Radio Scotland

Prison
BBC

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf says the early release of a limited number of prisoners because of the coronavirus pandemic is one of three measures aimed at easing pressures in prisons.

He told Good Morning Scotland that "ramping up" home detention curfews and the slow down in the courts would also mean fewer people being sent to prison.

Up to 450 prisoners could be released from 30 April, but Mr Yousaf said this would be done in a "phased manner" over a period of about four weeks.

"We hope these three measures effectively mean that we can increase the amount of single cell occupancy which will help us contain and fight the virus," he said.

"[It will] make it a safer place for the staff that work there, but also hopefully ease up some of the regime which has been tightened since the pandemic started which, as you can imagine, has caused some increased tensions in our prisons."

He said for those prisoners being released early it would be considered the end of their sentence.