JUST imagine the stress and anxiety felt by all of our young people who were waiting to receive their results on Tuesday morning.

For many, dreams of going on to university hung in the balance.

And imagine the shock, the hurt, the bitter disappointment, when tens of thousands opened up their results to find that the mark they received fell wide of what they should have received.

Of course, many readers won’t have to imagine. Many readers will be in the thick of this unmitigated foul up.

A day that is normally reserved for congratulating our young people and for recognising our advancements in attainment, descended into chaos and anger.

Teachers felt completely and utterly ignored: their professional judgement ripped up by a spreadsheet. According to Scottish Government, with whom blame lies entirely, our young people would have done TOO well this year.

According to Scottish Government, the professional judgement of our teachers (who we entrust with our children’s futures) was simply not “credible”.

The offending formulaic change? If a grade awarded to an individual pupil was significantly higher than the average of their school over the last few years, then they were marked down. 133,000 grades were changed, and 92% marked down.

But the offensive part? Grades of young people in poorer areas were marked down at double the rate of their better off counterparts.

Though it feels like a distant memory, some of us can remember when Nicola Sturgeon stood up in Parliament and invited Scots to judge her on her record in education. It was to be the defining mission - bringing down the attainment gap that continues to beset our young people. The educational inequalities that continue to scar would be wiped away by this administration.

And yet. When it matters most; when the future of tens of thousands of our young people is almost literally on the line; where is this great defining mission to be found? Instead of building a system to address these inequalities, they chose - despite repeated and consistent warnings - to build a system that reinforces those very inequalities.

Education is meant to be the closest thing we have to a silver bullet. The most foolproof way of breaking the cycle of poverty.

Is this the new normal that the SNP and the Scottish Government have been talking about? A new normal that, astonishingly, resembles the injustices of the old normal. When in opposition, Nicola Sturgeon said: “It is the responsibility of the Education Minister to ensure smooth running of the exam process… He must now carry the can.”

How 13 years in Government has changed the SNP tune: one of the longest periods of government in the UK. And the list of failings on education continues to grow and grow. Such that the SNP now refuse to submit to any international comparison - lest we discover that Scotland’s young people are being shortchanged.

But that’s what’s happening. The simple message that catapulted the SNP to their current position of dominance was Stronger for Scotland.

After seeing this week’s shambolic and classist display? What a joke, and they’re using our young people as the punchline.