In Scotland there is a review happening about how pupils are assessed.
As part of this, the Inclusion Ambassadors were asked to share their thoughts with the Scottish Government.
This is what they said:
Success Looks Different
The Inclusion Ambassadors believe that success is different for everyone.
In 2022 they launched their own awards for schools who celebrate and recognise the success of their pupils in different ways. These are called the Success Looks Different Awards.
The awards are a way of recognising that while exams are important, they are not everything.
The Inclusion Ambassadors believe that things like being creative and having good relationships with people should be seen as a more important part of assessing the success of pupils.
Too Much Focus on Exams
The Inclusion Ambassadors understand why there needs to be exams and assessments in school to see how everyone is doing.
However, for lots of the group, they find the idea of exams stressful.
They also think that too much focus on exams takes away from other parts of school life.
What about life skills?
The group talked about they way exams happen at the moment not being relevant in the real world.
Exams don’t help with life skills and the support they need for beyond school that isn’t related to higher education.
One of the Inclusion Ambassadors said:
“Sometimes things you learn they aren’t for the real world. I don’t know about bills or money or taxes, I don’t learn that.” Inclusion Ambassador
How exams can affect you
The Inclusion Ambassadors shared some of the ways that exams can make them think and feel:
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“I was excited at first because it was something new but now its stressful. Subjects were ones we chose and liked. A huge workload. Frustrating as well. After summer, all go and intense. Wasn’t prepared for this big workload.”
“Anxious, stressed, isolated and worried à relieved that I don’t have school exams anymore.”
“Dreaded school exams season. Work felt 24/7, felt so stressed, with no time to myself. People tell you not to worry, but that makes you worry more. Such a heavy reliance on doing well in your exams to get somewhere.”
“Intrigued, excited, nervous and excited about the exam, relief when it’s all over. Intrigued as to how you’ve done. Long and anxious wait between exams and results.”
“Nervous – because if you are thinking you won’t be good or something – you get worried that you won’t have done well at things.”
“Because if you’re going to an exam you want to make people happy about that score and if you don’t get that score you might make them unhappy. Probably feel like you’re not good enough.”
What can be changed?
The Inclusion Ambassadors support a more flexible approach to exams and assessments.
They think that a move towards a more ongoing form of assessment across the year would be better.
Pupils should be given more choice about how they want to be assessed.
Schools should celebrate the successes of all pupils, not just good exam results.
Schools need to find ways to reduce pressure around exams. The impact it can have on the health and wellbeing of pupils is often negative.