Scotland politics

John Swinney 'hears anger' of pupils over SQA results

John Swinney in school Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The education secretary visited a school in Rutherglen on results day

Education Secretary John Swinney has said he has "heard the anger of students" over school qualifications.

Mr Swinney, who faces a no-confidence vote in the Scottish parliament, said he would make a statement on Tuesday.

In it, he will set out how he intends to address the concerns of students and their parents.

With no exams because of coronavirus, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) downgraded many of the assessments made by teachers.

The SQA was accused of disproportionately affecting the results of pupils from schools which have previously presented fewer successful pupils for exams.

Speaking ahead of the statement, scheduled for the week schools resume after lockdown, Mr Swinney said: "I have heard the anger of students who feel their hard work has been taken away from them and I am determined to address it.

"These are unprecedented times and as we have said throughout this pandemic, we will not get everything right first time. Every student deserves a grade that reflects the work they have done, and that is what I want to achieve."

The education secretary said he had been "engaged in detailed discussions over the way forward", promising to act quickly to give certainty to young people.

He added: "I will set out on Tuesday how we intend to achieve that."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Pupils and parents took part in demonstrations after the results were announced

When the Scottish parliament resumes this week, Scottish Labour will table a motion of no-confidence in Mr Swinney, which the Conservatives will support. The Scottish Greens have indicated they would consider backing the motion.

Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said Mr Swinney "needs to go".

"It's taken John Swinney five days to even admit this fiasco is his responsibility," he said.

Start of term

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross also called on the first minister to remove Mr Swinney.

And Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: "An admission of error is step one in resolving this major issue but the detailed solution is what matters."

In a Sunday Times article, former SNP minister Alex Neil said the Scottish government "must reverse the decisions it made about examination results that saw the poorest children in many of the most deprived areas downgraded on the altar of a manufactured algorithm prepared in secret".

Schools in Scotland are to resume this week for the first time since March.

All pupils will be provided with full-time education. Education authorities have been preparing procedures and modifying the layout of school buildings to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission.


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