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First Minister says 'sorry' for exam furore admitting Scottish Government got it wrong and vowing to fix the issue

By Scott Maclennan

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Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has bowed to pressure admitting at today’s Covid-19 briefing that the Scottish Government got it wrong over exams and apologised.

The marking system adopted by the SQA sparked outrage last week and accusations of a postcode lottery as some students were marked down over where their school was located.

Cross-party anger and outrage from pupils, schools and the general public has now forced the government into an embarrassing climbdown as Ms Sturgeon admitted that they did not get it right.

She said that education secretary John Swinney, amid calls for him to resign, will deliver a statement to Holyrood tomorrow on the action the government will now take to remedy the situation and grant the awards pupils earned.

She defended the government's record saying that the decision were taken with the best of intentions.

Ms Sturgeon said: “For those pupils and parents of pupils who received their SQA results last week, John Swinney will make a statement in parliament tomorrow about the steps we intend to take to address concerns about this year's results.

“At the heart of that will be steps to make sure that every young person gets the grade that recognises the work they have done. In a very difficult and unprecedented situation we took decisions that on balance we thought were the right ones and we took them with the very best of intentions.

“These were broadly the same decisions that have been reached in England and Wales as well, but our concern was to make sure that the grades young people get were as valid as though they would have gotten any other year perhaps led us to think too much about the overall system and not enough about the individual pupil.

“And that has meant that too students feel that they lost out and raise with the and also that that has happened as a result not because of anything they've done but because of a statistical model or an algorithm.

“And in addition that burden has not fallen equally across our society and despite our best intentions I do acknowledge that we did not get this right and I'm sorry for that.

“But instead of doing what politicians sometimes do and dig our heels-in we are determined to acknowledge that and put it right.

“There are of course deeper questions that we will need to resolve for the longer term about the impact of exams on the attainment gap and the difference between exams and teacher judgement.

“But the most immediate challenge is to resolve the grades awarded to pupils this year. As I said we will set out our approach tomorrow to the Scottish Parliament but let me be clear that we will not expect every student who has been downgraded to appeal.

“The situation is not the fault of students and should not be on students to fix it – that's on us and we will set out tomorrow exactly how we intend to do that.”

Related: Black Isle mum amongst those upset over exams fiasco

SQA aims to issue results by August 4

Alness acting head praises pupils' exam efforts

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