Coronavirus: What will happen to school exams?

By Jamie McIvor
BBC Scotland education correspondent

  • Published
students taking examImage source, Getty Images

Nicola Sturgeon has said schools in Scotland will remain open for now but that policy will be kept "under review" as coronavirus is expected to spread.

However, this advice may change if the country moves into the next phase of battling the outbreak.

The uncertainty has prompted pupils and their parents to ask how the Scottish exam season, due to get under way on 27 April, will be affected.

Here education correspondent Jamie McIvor explains what might happen.

What would happen if individual candidates cannot attend an exam?

As things stand, there have been no changes to the exam timetable and schools are still preparing as normal.

But if individual candidates are unable to attend an exam because they are ill or have to self-isolate, it would be possible to use the appeals process.

The appeals process is designed to ensure candidates whose performance may be affected by exceptional circumstances - such as illness or a family emergency - still receive the grade they merit on results day.

Schools are responsible for submitting the appeal and supporting evidence.

What would happen if individual schools or exam centres are closed?

As above, appeals could be made for individuals by their schools or it may be possible to arrange to let the candidates sit their exams elsewhere.

For example in 2016 emergency arrangements were made for pupils in Edinburgh whose schools were closed after concerns about the safety of the buildings.

What would happen if all schools are closed in some or all of Scotland?

This would be the most difficult scenario - and at present is seen by education directors as highly unlikely - and it may well require a national response.

In such a scenario, it would seem almost inevitable that some may ask whether exams should be postponed or even cancelled.

It would be very difficult to hold exams on different days in different places as it would be almost inevitable that an exam paper would leak on to the internet.

Any significant delay to the exam diet could make it harder to ensure exam results are still delivered as planned on 4 August. This would then cause problems for candidates hoping to go to college or university.

What about university exams?

Universities are responsible for their own arrangements on exams. They would be able to postpone them if necessary and would also have their own processes to support any candidates unable to take part.

However difficult questions could arise concerning final year students who are due to graduate in the coming months.