SNP crisis: Documents expose FURY over exam fiasco – ‘Hang your heads in shame’

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More than 124,000 results were downgraded during a botched exam moderation process in August, which was introduced after COVID-19 forced the scrapping of exams. Protests forced both First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Education Secretary John Swinney to apologise, with amended grades eventually being withdrawn.


As a result, teacher estimates were reinstated on Highers, Advanced Highers and National 5s.

A Freedom of Information Request on exam results day on Tuesday, August 4, showed Mr Swinney inundated with correspondence from furious parents within a four hour period.

Further emails revealed in FOI requests seen by showed parents to be “disgusted” and “pi**** off” while a pupil wrote to Mr Swinney saying thousands shared the same feelings as him.

One former SNP supporter said: “From a country that has produced some of the leading experts in the world, this is a national embarrassment.

“Hang your heads in shame. Today is a sad day for Scotland.”

Another said: “Disgusted by the way the children have [been] dealt with this year with their exam results.

“Casualties not of their own doing.”

Part of an email by Scottish Labour MSP Alex Rowley sent to Mr Swinney read: “I am sure that you are being overrun by complaints from the results announced this morning.

”Many young people feeling cheated and abandoned.”

Jamie Greene MSP, Scottish Conservative Education Spokesman said it was astonishing it took so long for Mr Swinney to U-turn on the exam debacle given the strength of feeling was instantly felt by students and parents.

He added: “John Swinney was rightly inundated by a blitz of criticism from furious parents and youngsters over his exam debacle.

“It seems astonishing that he wouldn’t have been aware of the anger that was being instantly felt.

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“The situation was allowed to fester for days, without any sign of a U-turn from the SNP’s Education Secretary.

“It was only when his own job was on the line that he sprang into action.

“Angry parents and pupils deserved far better leadership from Mr Swinney who buried his head in the sand in the face of mounting critical correspondence.”

In response, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Following the release of results in August by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) we were determined that every student should get a grade that reflected the work they had done.

“The Deputy First Minister took swift decisions that all downgraded awards would be withdrawn and directed the SQA to re-issue those awards based solely on teacher or lecturer judgement, or SQA moderated teacher and lecturer estimates where these were higher.

“He also took the view it was important this information was announced to the Scottish Parliament at the first available opportunity.

“We have always been clear that lessons needed to be learned from this process, and that is why the Deputy First Minister commissioned a rapid review of the process, which has subsequently reported.”

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