Commenting on John Swinney’s plans for exams in Scotland in 2021, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:  

"John Swinney is right to recognise that we cannot predict levels of learning time lost due to Covid in the coming months, nor what summer 2021 will look like in terms of protecting public health. What he has done today is seek to improve the Scottish Government’s Plan A, as well as providing a robust Plan B. This dispels the ridiculous myth propagated by the Government in England that you cannot prepare a contingency at fear it may distract from Plan A. 

"John Swinney’s actions are an example of being contrite and working towards a proper solution. Meanwhile, the Department for Education in England still languishes in a state of denial about this year's fiasco and persists in blaming others. The NEU met with the Schools Minister on Monday and await the conclusions of Ofqual's deliberations in the coming weeks, but there is sadly little sign as yet that a serious Plan B is on the table. 

"Whereas the English Government still resists committing itself to a full independent review of what went wrong in summer 2020, the report commissioned in Scotland has already been delivered and acted upon. Such a delay is not a reflection of deep deliberation, but Gavin Williamson's failure to act matched with an inexcusable tardiness. Teachers, students and parents in England need to have a much clearer picture of what counts in examinations next year, and what form the assessment will take. This is not the time for dithering."