How is Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impacting Education?

Last updated on the 23/06/2020 at 15:03

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.

My school has closed, what happens next?

Schools across Scotland closed at the end of the day on Friday 20th March to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Not all schools are closed completely. Some are open with fewer teachers and support staff for some pupils (for example, children of keyworkers where no one else can look after them). The Government is continuing to offer free school meals through vouchers that will be supplied by each local authority.

Keep in contact with your school as they will set work for you to do at home and provide the most up-to-date information about your school reopening.

When will schools reopen?

It is expected that schools will reopen after summer on the 11th of August.

On 21st May, the First Minister announced that school would reopen as part of Phase Three of the government's plan to come out of lockdown. While there are no fixed dates for each phase and any changes depend on how much we are able to control the spread of the virus, it's expected that school will reopen on August 11th. The exact date that you go back to school may vary depending on your Council and whether your school plans teacher training on these dates. Your school will have the most up to date advice about when your school will be going back. 

It's expected that young people will go back to school full-time in August with no physical distancing in place. This means you will be back at school the usual amount of days you would be before the COVID-19 outbreak. But this would only happen if it is safe to do so and there is no risk to you.

If it's not yet safe enough then something called a 'blended model' would be used. This means that you would go to school some days and study at home on other days. Physical distancing measures, like desks being further apart, would also likely be in place.

With that said, the First Minister has also made it very clear that Scottish schools won't reopen until it's safe to do so, and that the situation is still being monitored very closely.

What will my school be like when I go back?

There will be some changes to schools when you do go back and these changes will vary from school to school but this is to ensure 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 will let you know more information as soon as they are able. 

There will also be increased cleaning of the school to help make sure it's safe. Because 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, make sure you 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: linknet2@linknetmentoring.com or linknet3@linknetmentoring.com 

Check out more of our information about coronavirus.