Nicola Sturgeon humiliated as SNP set for major U-turn – ‘Not good enough!’

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John Swinney will tomorrow address Holyrood to set out a series of steps to address concerns from distraught teenagers after the new Scottish results system, implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic, was branded “fundamentally unfair”. There were no exams sat this year due to the coronavirus pandemic so the Scottish Qualifications Authority applied a methodology that saw grades estimated by teachers downgraded.


The Education Secretary and Deputy First Minister faces a motion of no confidence from Scottish Labour following the fiasco which will be supported by the Scottish Conservatives.

More than a quarter (26.2 percent) of grades were moderated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), a total of 133,762, while 377,308 entries were accepted unchanged.

Figures released by the SQA also show that pass rates for pupils in the most deprived data zones were reduced by 15.2 percent in comparison with 6.9 percent for pupils from the most affluent backgrounds.

After SQA moderation, the National 5 pass rate was 81.1 percent, the Higher pass rate was 78.9 percent and the Advanced Higher pass rate was 84.9 percent.


Because of this, students took to the streets of Glasgow to protest against their grades with many claiming their career dreams had been shattered.

Mr Swinney said he had “heard the anger of students who feel their hard work has been taken away” and said he was “determined to address it”.

Hinting at a U-turn in a statement yesterday evening, he said: “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.

“I have been engaged in detailed discussions over the way forward and I know that we need to act and act quickly to give certainty to our young people.

“I will set out on Tuesday how we intend to achieve that.”

But Iain Gray MSP, Scottish Labour’s education spokesman, said Mr Swinney “needs to go”, adding: “It’s taken John Swinney five days to even admit this fiasco is his responsibility. The threat of a no-confidence motion has seen him finally accept the fact that he got this badly wrong.”

Douglas Ross, the new Scottish Conservative leader said Nicola Sturgeon must remove Mr Swinney, saying she either “backs Scotland’s pupils or she backs an education secretary that has presided over this exams fiasco”.

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He added to “We’ve all got to be prepared to put country before party, as I have in the past, and Nicola Sturgeon must do that now and remove Mr Swinney.

“The futures of young people must be put first, ahead of these lofty arguments about the credibility of the system.”

Ross Greer MSP, Scottish Greens education spokesman, said he welcomed John Swinney’s “admission that the Scottish Government got this badly wrong”.

Willie Rennie MSP, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, added: “An admission of error is step one in resolving this major issue but the detailed solution is what matters.

“Why we ever got into this sorry state is a question that needs answered too.”

Meanwhile, the Children’s and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland (CYPCS) called for the Scottish Government to apologise and to change the methodology for calculating grades.

Nick Hobbs, CYPCS head of advice and investigations, criticised the SQA’s “refusal to discuss its proposed methodology in advance” and said young people are now “experiencing significant anxiety and distress”.

He added: “This situation has placed process before people, and in endeavouring to protect the system has delivered results to individual students that are simply unfair.

“It appears that too many young people have not received the results they deserve and they are due an apology as well as redress.”

Lord McConnell, former Labour first minister between 2001 and 2007 also issued a warning to Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney over the exam results chaos, saying “get it fixed or go”. 

Lord McConnell said the fiasco was “not good enough for Scotland”.

Meanwhile, former SNP Justice Secretary 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”.


It comes as Scottish schools are set to reopen this week from August 11th and will welcome pupils back by August 18th at the latest.

But a survey by the Education Institute for Scotland revealed that less than a fifth of teachers were confident schools are currently safe to reopen next week.

Scotland’s largest teaching union found 64 percent of teachers support the resumption of classes next week but just 18 percent have confidence in the safety measures put in place so far.

Asked about returning to work in schools, 62 percent of teachers said they feel either “somewhat unsafe” or “very unsafe”.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the union would be “seeking urgent discussions on the mitigations that teachers still want to see – such as sufficient social distancing, testing for asymptomatic staff, and the use of face coverings where required to ensure safety.”


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