All downgraded exam grades will be withdrawn John Swinney the Education Secretary has announced.

In a huge U turn from defending the downgrading and moderation system last week, the education secretary said that he was making the decision even though it means a rise in pass rates “unprecedented in Scottish exam history.

Mr Swinney apologized to every young person who had their result downgraded from the estimate supplied by their teacher.

He said all those pupils, 75,000, who had lower than expected results would receive a new certificate with the grade estimate from their teacher.

Mr Swinney said he was concerned about grade inflation with the big increase in pass rates the estimates produced.

However, he said: “This is outweighed by the concern that young people might lose faith in the system and conclude that it is against you” no matter how hard you work.

He said: “These are exceptional times, and in exceptional times truly difficult decisions are made. In speaking directly to the young people affected by the downgrading of awards – the seventy-five thousand pupils whose teacher estimates were higher than their final award - I want to say this: I am sorry. 

“I have listened and the message is clear. They don’t just want an apology, they want to see this fixed and that is exactly what I will now do. To resolve this issue all downgraded awards will be withdrawn. I am directing the SQA to re-issue those awards based solely on teacher or lecturer judgement."

The decison means

  • Where a teacher estimate was adjusted down by the SQA, candidates will receive the grade the teacher awarded.
  • Candidates whose entries were adjusted up by the SQA will retain the higher grade
  • The SQA will inform schools of the revised results by Friday 21 August for schools to tell pupils. New certificates will be issued in due course.
  • The SQA will provide new grades to UCAS and other college and university admissions bodies, and the Scottish Government will ensure enough places at colleges and universities so that all places awarded to young people can be taken up.

Mr Swinney was facing a motion of no confidence by opposition parties in Holyrood this week.

It means a pass rate of 88.9% at National 5 which is an increase of 10%. A pass rate of 89.2% at Higher, up 14.2% and advanced higher pass rate at 93.1% an increase of 13.7%