Scottish school pupils have results upgraded after outcry

Exam results in Scotland that were downgraded by a controversial moderation process will be withdrawn, it has been announced.

The government u-turn follows an outcry from pupils after a moderation system saw 125,000 estimated results being downgraded.

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

There had been claims that the moderation system unfairly penalised pupils at schools which had historically not performed as well.

"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.

Mr Swinney and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had both previously argued that basing grades on teacher estimates alone would damage the credibility of this year's results compared to previous years.

Opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament are pushing for a vote of no confidence in Mr Swinney, with Labour and the Conservatives calling for him to quit.

The coronavirus lockdown saw all of Scotland's school exams cancelled for the first time ever, with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) drawing up a new system to calculate results.

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.

This sparked an outcry from students, particularly when it emerged that the Higher pass rate for pupils from the most deprived backgrounds was reduced by 15.2 percentage points, but only by 6.9 percentage points for the wealthiest pupils.

Mr Swinney accepted there was "clear anger and frustration from young people and their families" about this, saying it had "left many young people feeling their future had been determined by statistical modelling rather than their own ability".

He said he would now direct the SQA to reissue grades "based solely on teacher or lecturer judgement".

Fresh certificates will be issued and the university admissions body informed of the changes so applications can be processed.

Scotland's change of heart will put pressure for changes in the rest of the UK.

In England using teachers' predictions would have meant almost 40% getting an A* or A at A-level this year - and below that average there will be some teachers that have been very tough and others very generous.

Until now England's Department for Education has rejected any change of plan, but the stakes have been raised.

Meanwhile, schools in the Scottish Borders are the first to open today, while other areas will gradually open ahead of all pupils returning by 18 August, the Scottish government said.