FIRSTLY, congratulations.

Congratulations to the young people who have had to cope with five months of uncertainty in unprecedented times and who are now, for many, facing further uncertainty.

For those of you who opened envelopes yesterday... hang on, I'm showing my age.

For those of you who opened text messages yesterday morning and were met by results you expected - or that were even better than expected - well done. I hope you celebrated in style with the people who love you and are proud of you.

Some of you will have results that were not what you hoped for. I know that feeling and it's tough. It can feel life shaking and life changing. For some, it means the start of the appeals process and a further anxious wait. For others it really will be life changing. It will push you from Plan A to Plan B.

While that feels momentous now, your Plan B will still be satisfying and interesting and brilliant. We all, at every stage in life, have different choices we make that lead us in different directions. It is what you make it - and you can make it amazing. I hope, even if you were disappointed, you still celebrated because you've earned it.

As the dust settles from the implications of yesterdays results announcements, it's important to remember each and every young person who makes up a part of the statistics that are being poured over.

It's also important to remember that all outcomes have equal value. Journalists like to write about the young people heading off to Oxbridge. That's a fabulous achievement. But going to college or into an apprenticeship or job is equally fabulous if it's what's right for you.

Results day 2020 was always going to be unlike any other year and it was always going to lead to a political tussle as the consequences of the Scottish Qualification Authority's marking system became clear.

For weeks there have been concerns raised at the plan to allow the previous performance of a school to influence this year's marks.

It would, ran the cautions, lead to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds being even further disadvantaged. And it looks like those warning voices were correct with the pass rate of pupils from the most disadvantaged backgrounds reduced by 15.2% compared to 6.9% for the most affluent pupils.

This wasn't an aberration either. If you look at the table, the reduction in pass rates falls in line with the reduction in affluence - at no stage on the scale from most affluent to least affluent does it increase.

Nicola Sturgeon yesterday defended the SQA's marking system. It helped, she said, to maintain the "credibility" of the results.

This was because the pass rates of pupils in the most deprived areas would have been just shy of 20% higher than last year without SQA moderation. This would have been "unprecedented and therefore not credible".

"What we want to make sure is that this year's results have the degree of credibility that means that they are not so out of sync with previous years that people are going to look at them and say 'they don't make any sense'," she added.

"As much as I would love to be in the position of standing here credibly saying that 85% of the 20% in the most deprived areas had passed Higher, given that it was 65% last year, that would raise a real credibility issue."

That's quite a statement. It simply would not have been believable that pupils from the most deprived homes could have improved their grades, based on teacher estimates, by that extent.

Isn't that an indictment of our school system? Not only do we acknowledge the huge attainment gap between pupils - and that really is acknowledged with tactics attempting to tackle it - but we think it's set in stone.

While the SQA says that grades, in the main, have 'only' been lowered by one band, that 'only' is doing a lot of work. A grade moved down by one band can mean the difference between getting in to university or not. It can alter a future path.

The SQA and politicians also point to the fact young people can appeal for free this year as the fee has been waived. But what an additional stress for pupils at such a stressful time. And how much extra workload will this be for teachers who are also preparing schools for reopening under unprecedented conditions.

The pandemic has been a real test of mettle for the whole education system, top to bottom.

In this case a system has been created that undermines teachers' knowledge of students in favour of a statistical model that penalises already deprived pupils in attempt to make the results close to what they would be in a "normal" year. But this isn't a normal year.

Covid-19 has been a test and we can't yet award the SQA a pass. The only response now is for the exams body to clearly show its workings before our young people are disadvantaged any further.