Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has called on the Scottish Government to provide extra support for pupils preparing to sit SQA exams this year.

Speaking during a recent Education Portfolio Question Time in the Scottish Parliament, the local MSP also raised the possibility of pupils receiving targeted learning support in schools during the Easter break with the Cabinet Secretary for Education Shirley-Anne Somerville. Colin Smyth is concerned that pupil and staff absences during the pandemic have led to pupils missing large parts of lessons and wants extra help for those whose education has been disrupted.

Speaking in Parliament Colin Smyth said: “We know that disruption to students’ education continues with on-going, significant absence levels among pupils and school staff.

“Some parents will be able to afford additional tutoring for their children ahead of exams, but the poorest will not.

“Does the cabinet secretary accept that we need to escalate support for students who are sitting Scottish Qualifications Authority exams this year, including by providing additional resources for targeted learning support in schools during the Easter holidays?”

In response the Education Secretary said “the Scottish Government is working with colleagues in local government on the issue of Easter support” and hoped to make an announcement soon.

Speaking after the session, he added: “I was pleased that Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills Shirley-Anne Somerville agreed with me in Parliament that there needs to be some support provided to pupils in the Easter break.

“She said the Government is working with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and expects to make an announcement on the subject ‘soon’.

“However, I will be pressing the Government and COSLA to ensure that this is sooner, rather than later. Covid has hit all aspect of our lives for almost two years now and few places has this been felt more profoundly than in our schools.

“Our fantastic teachers have done all they can in very difficult circumstances, but Covid is not over and many young people still need some extra support to get through their exams.”

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