Secondary school students in Scotland will be offered support, including online revision sessions, ahead of exams in 2022.

In August, the Scottish Government confirmed that an exam diet will be held next year for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses, as long as it is “safe to do so”.

In a written answer to a question in the Scottish Parliament yesterday, education secretary Shirley-Ann Somerville said that a package of supports will be put in place to maximise students’ attainment.

SNP MSP Stephanie Callaghan asked how the government will support senior phase learners – particularly those from the most deprived backgrounds – prepare for exams.

Many of the initiatives being put in place build on the work of e-Sgoil – the Stornoway-based remote learning facility – which has helped deliver the National e-Learning Offer, alongside West OS and Education Scotland, since March 2020.

According to Ms Somerville, learners will have an opportunity to attend online revision classes during the Easter holidays with e-Sgoil in 2022, which will cover a range of SCQF Level 4 to Level 7 courses.

This comes after e-Sgoil’s Easter study support sessions, which ran for the first time in April 2021, helped more than 14,000 students.

And throughout the entire academic year, learners will be able to attend evening revision classes with e-Sgoil as part of a “comprehensive” online study support programme. “Measures are being taken to target and engage with groups of learners for this support,” Ms Somerville said.

From the beginning of next year, e-Sgoil can offer specialised targeted study support – via referral from their headteacher – for young people considered to have been most impacted by Covid-19.

Additionally, after the October break, learner support sessions will be carried out to give pupils an opportunity to access specific advice to support assessment preparation.

Ms Somerville said: “Sessions consist of a range of generic advice to help prepare young people for both naturally occurring assessment, prelims and final examinations.

“This input includes advice on exam technique and revision strategies as well as health and wellbeing advice, including managing stress and where learners can access additional services.”

On top of these measures, the government is committed to boosting in-person Easter study support provision in 2022, and will work with local councils to “increase this further where appropriate”.

SNP ministers are also keen to continue to support attainment advisors, who work in regional teams at Education Scotland to support local authorities.

The support they provide is focussed on helping practitioners make effective use of data and evidence to identify where young people require support and identify the actions which will “have most impact”.

In addition, teachers and lecturers will be encouraged to attend online webinars where they will learn about alternative pathways to achievement that have been implemented with success in a number of Scottish schools. These workshops will consider best practise on raising attainment and supporting disadvantaged learners.

Ms Somerville said: “Pupils living in Scotland’s most deprived communities are among those to benefit from £215 million of funding in 2021-22, targeted via the Scottish Attainment Challenge, to support education recovery, and help close the poverty-related attainment gap.

“This funding is made available to head teachers to support pupils experiencing poverty, and to local authorities and schools with the highest levels of deprivation. It includes is our ‘Covid-premium’ payment of £20m, which recognises the new challenges schools face as a result of the pandemic.

“Our approach empowers head teachers to decide how best to invest their allocation to best support their disadvantaged pupils, including those that will be preparing for SQA examinations in Spring 2022.

“Teachers know their pupils best and will take cognisance of best practice to put in place supports that will allow learners to maximise their senior phase attainment in session 2021-22. I am grateful to them for their efforts in this respect.”

She added that plans for the next phase of the Scottish Attainment Challenge programme will soon be announced.