SCHOOL exams have been cancelled for the first time ever as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

As cases continue to rise in Scotland and deaths doubled to six overnight, Education secretary John Swinney announced the decision that will affect thousands of young people across the country.

Just 24 hours earlier it was announced that all school were to close from today bit no mention of the higher and National Exams due to start next month was made.

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Ms Swinney said it was an “unprecedented” measure but necessary because of the unprecedented circumstances.

Instead of sitting exams to determine their grades that allow them to progress and to enter higher and further education courses.

Mr Swinney said it is important the “life chances of those due to sit exams are rightly protected. We are doing all we can to deliver the best outcome. Certification needed can be put in place to ensure young people are not disadvantaged.”

He said that a system of course work, teacher assessment and prior attainment could be used to determine the grades pupils are awarded.

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Many senior pupils need certain Higher grades to meet entry requirements for university places they have applied for, others for further education courses or training courses and apprenticeships.

Mr Swinney said that schools must prioritise completion of the necessary work.

He said: “Schools should submit coursework and teacher assessments by the required date.”

In Glasgow almost 11,000 pupils in S4 to S6 at National 4, National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher across sat a total of almost 50,000 exams.

Glasgow City Council moved to reassure pupils they will not be adversely affected by the cancellation.

Maureen McKenna, Executive Director for Education said: “Today’s announcement does not come as any surprise in the current crisis and I want to reassure our young people that our school staff have been working for the last few weeks gathering evidence and up-to-date assessments for every senior pupil and as part of our contingency planning.

“I know that some of our young people are anxious but we know they have the resilience to understand that in these extraordinary circumstances they will not be disadvantaged because they can’t sit their exams.

“However, I also know that our pupils have worked extremely hard and they will be upset that their attainment is not going to be recorded in the normal way – but this is the new normal – with everyone in the country and the world in the very same position and it’s about how we flourish in the face of adversity that matters most at the moment.

“Our schools will be open – with different operating models to meet the needs of their local community – and I will do everything in my power to make sure that our senior pupils achieve the qualifications they deserve.”

Mr Swinney also said plans are being developed to ensure pupils who get free school meals do not go without food.

He said councils will identify who needs support and it could be delivered either by a voucher scheme or though opening community campuses to provide meals to children or to enable young people or families to collect food.