Exam results in Scotland that were downgraded by a controversial moderation process will be withdrawn, the Scottish education secretary has announced.

John Swinney told the Scottish parliament that the 124,564 results affected will revert to the grades estimated by the pupils' teachers.

He said he was directing the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to "reissue those awards based solely on teacher or lecturer judgement".

Nicola Sturgeon apologises to students

"Schools will be able to confirm the estimates they provided for pupils to those that are returning to school this week and next," Mr Swinney added.

Pupils in the most deprived areas of Scotland had their exam pass rate downgraded by more than twice that of students from the wealthiest parts of the country.


Exams for nationals, highers and advanced higher courses were scrapped this year due to the coronavirus lockdown, with teachers instead submitting estimated grades based on students' previous results, predicted attainment and evidence of their past work.

The grades were then looked at by the SQA, which moderated 26.2% of them, leaving the rest unchanged.

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John Swinney has faced calls to resign
Image: John Swinney has faced calls to resign

Of those grades that were moderated, 93.1% were downgraded, affecting 124,564 pupils.

The pass rate of pupils in the most deprived data zones was reduced by 15.2% from teacher estimates after the exam board's moderation.

In contrast, the pass rate for pupils from the most affluent backgrounds dropped by 6.9%.

'Deep concerns' as pass rate cut hits poorest pupils hardest

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has apologised, admitting "we did not get this right".

Mr Swinney has faced criticism from pupils, parents and teachers amid the furore, with opposition politicians calling for him to resign.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said he "has lost all credibility and isn't the one to fix this", while former Scottish Tory leaders Ruth Davidson and Jackson Carlaw both called on Mr Swinney to quit.

The education secretary did not address these calls directly in his statement.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visits West Calder High School in West Lothian to meet staff and see preparations for the new school term.
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