How is Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impacting Education?

Last updated on the 30/07/2020 at 13:42

One of the things you've said you're most concerned about is how COVID-19 will affect your education. Whether you're in school, college or university, we'll keep this page up-to-date as information changes.

When will schools reopen?

Schools will reopen after summer on the 11th August.

The exact date that you go back to school may vary depending on your local council area and whether your school plans teacher training at the start of term. Your school will have the most up-to-date information about when your school will go back. The aim is to have all pupils back in school full-time by 18th August at the latest.

This means you will be at school for same number of days as before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Although schools will be going back full-time, there is a chance that a 'blended model' might be introduced in the future if evidence suggests this is necessary. This means that you would go to school some days – and study at home on others.

Some physical distancing measures, like desks being further apart, will also likely be in place at your school – as well as other hygiene measures.

What will my school be like when I go back?

There will be some changes at school when you go back and these changes will vary from school to school. These changes are to help make sure that you, your friends, other students and school staff are all safe. Your school will be able to tell you the plan once it's been put it in place and they will let you know more information as soon as they can.
You can find the Scottish Government's guidance for the return of schools on their website.
Primary schools will re-open with no physical distancing in place, while secondary schools are likely to encourage this where possible. Adults within your school will have to practice physical distancing around each other and around pupils. Some things that you can expect when you go back are:
  1. Hand washing and/or sanitising for everyone arriving at the school and throughout the day
  2. Fewer large gatherings with lots of other people – such as assemblies
  3. You might have to stay in the same group or class throughout the day 
  4. Less sharing of equipment like books/equipment/cutlery etc.
  5. You won't need to wear a face covering – but you can do if you want to.
There will also be more cleaning of the school to help make sure it's safe. As there will be change, when you do go back to school you won't go straight back to learning – there will be time to adjust to what's new and learn about what's changed.
For more information, check your school website and/or social media, as well as speak to your parent or guardian who might receive additional information from the school.

What about my exams and coursework?

We've teamed up with Fiona Robertson, Chief Executive of the SQA, to answer some of your questions around how coronavirus is affecting your coursework and exams, watch the short video below.

Unfortunately, exams did not go ahead this summer. 

The SQA also announced on the 24th March that Higher and Advanced Higher students would not be required to submit any coursework towards their final grade.

They also said that National 5 students would not be required to submit coursework that would have been collected in April and May. Some students may have already completed coursework for Higher and Advanced Higher courses and this work can still be used by teachers to consider estimated grades.

The SQA has also already received some coursework for National 5 subjects but it will not be marked and unfortunately cannot be returned. However, the coursework may be used in the future as part of the appeals process.

The SQA will work with teachers and lecturers to use their knowledge of your work to estimate the grade and band you should get. This estimate will come from previous performances and any other attainment information where that is available.

On April 3rd, the SQA published new guidance around further education, including:

  • Higher National Certificates (HNC)
  • Higher National Diplomas (HND)
  • National Certificates (NCs) 
  • National Progression Awards (NPAs) and
  • National Qualification (NQ) units

This guidance confirms that lecturers will be able to determine grades using their own judgement and knowledge of your progress and achievements. This will be accompanied by some external verification which will aim to quality assure the grades.

Find out more on SQA's website.

"We appreciate this is a difficult and uncertain situation for applicants planning to start university in the autumn, and we are committed to work together to ensure that your hard work to date will not go to waste, and that no-one is unfairly impacted in this process by the COVID-19 virus." - UCAS

When will I get my exam results?

Your exam results will arrive in the post on the 4th of August 2020. 

To keep up with the latest information and to receive your results by text and email on 4th August, you can sign up to MySQA using your Scottish Candidate Number (SCN) and email address.

Find out more and sign up for MySQA on the SQA website.

More information about how your exam results will be decided is available on our SQA 'how will you get your results?' page.

How will the SQA make sure results are fair?

In addition to the new processes outlined above about teachers and lecturers considering a wide range of evidence to determine grades, there will be a free appeals service to make sure that you can question any result.

If you're unhappy with your results, you should speak to your school - any appeals must go through them. Appeals can only be made where you have received a lower grade than that which was estimated by your school. If successful, the appeal may result in your grade being marked higher, but changes in band are not possible.

If you need to appeal your results so that you can accept a conditional university offer, your appeal should be submitted as a 'priority appeal' by your school.

Your school should gather and submit evidence that shows you should have been awarded a higher grade. This may include:

  • Prelims and mock tests
  • Commercially-produced question papers
  • SQA past papers or specimen question papers
  • Class tests
  • Classwork
  • Completed or partially-completed course assessments
  • Performance evidence

They may also include a commentary that explains why they believe you should be awarded a higher grade.

I also want to do a double check just to make sure that the estimates provided by schools are broadly consistent across the country and that's effectively what the moderation process is about. It's about ensuring that a B grade in one school is the same as a B grade in another school. - Fiona Robertson, Chief Executive of the SQA

If you are worried about your exam results, Skills Development Scotland will be operating a helpline offering advice about qualifications, skills and careers when exam results come out. You can also check out our exam results campaign which has tons of useful information.

What happens if I'm due to start or return to university or college this year?

If you're due to start university this autumn, the UCAS website has put together useful information about the steps that are being taken to support students, this includes information for international students. If you were planning on attending an open day or visiting the campus, take a look at the university website as virtual tours and other events are being planned to support prospective students. 

If you're returning to university this autumn, the Scottish Government has announced that colleges and universities are expected to open after summer, following a blended model of remote learning and limited on-campus learning where it's a priority. Your best bet is always to keep checking your university or college website for the latest information, or contact your course coordinator for course-specific advice.

Guidance has been launched with specific information for international students, which can be viewed on the Scottish Government website.

What about my SAAS funding for college and university?

If you're applying to attend university in Scotland and have questions about funding, take a look at our page answering questions about Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).

What financial support is available for students?

On 7th April, the First Minister announced that a £5 million package of emergency financial support is being put in place to help university and college students facing hardship. In June, this was complemented by a further £11.4 million of discretionary funds available through colleges and universities. Speak to your college or university for information on how to apply.

The Scottish Government has launched Student Information Scotland, a dedicated website with advice for students. For questions about funding in Scotland, visit our SAAS FAQ. You can also find out more by checking our page on how to look after your finances during the coronavirus pandemic.

For more specific and up-to-date advice, it's recommended that you regularly check with

  • your college or university’s website
  • your course tutors and, where applicable
  • your college or university’s International Department, where applicable.

Where can I access careers advice?

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is giving free one-to-one careers advice for anyone worried about their learning or work during coronavirus. This can be accessed through the PACE helpline, call 0800 917 8000 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday to speak to someone. The helpline can help you if you're thinking about your options now and in the future, whether it's college, uni, apprenticeships, getting into a job or further learning.

For more information you can visit the SDS website or the My World of Work website.

LINKnet is a free mentoring service for minority ethnic people. They'll match you up with an expert mentor who can help you find a job, get a place at college/university or support you with personal development. They've moved their service online during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information or to register get in touch via: or 

Check out more of our information about coronavirus.