John Swinney: Teacher estimates expected to be reinstated for exam results

The education secretary’s future is on a knife-edge ahead of his statement to parliament today.

John Swinney is Nicola Sturgeon's number two, but is facing mounting pressure from opposition parties following the exam results controversy.

John Swinney is expected to announce that teacher estimates will be reinstated for the majority of pupils in his statement to parliament later today.

The Scotsman understands that pressure from the Scottish Greens and a threat to back a Scottish Labour no confidence motion has forced the change of tack, with the Greens’ request for a ‘no detriment’ policy to be followed through by the education secretary.

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There is no confirmation of exactly what Mr Swinney will set out with the First Minister refusing to comment on his speech during her daily briefing yesterday.

However, sources from within the Greens have said they expect to see Mr Swinney grant teacher estimates, as well as indicate whether a review of the controversy will take place.

It is not clear if students who had their grades inflated rather than reduced will see their grades change.

They added that the Greens, crucial in any vote of no confidence in Mr Swinney, will only commit support after details are released by the education secretary.

The Scottish Conservatives have said they will back Labour’s motion, with the Scottish Liberal Democrats yet to commit on a position.

Asked repeatedly about the statement yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon refused to be drawn on the details.

She said: "Despite our best intentions, I do acknowledge we did not get this right and I'm sorry for that. The most immediate challenge is to resolve the grades awarded to pupils this year."

On Sunday, Mr Swinney released a statement saying he and the Scottish Government had "heard the anger of students who feel their hard work has been taken away".

"These are unprecedented times and as we have said throughout this pandemic, we will not get everything right first time," he said.

"Every student deserves a grade that reflects the work they have done and that is what I want to achieve. I have been engaged in detailed discussions over the way forward and I know that we need to act and act quickly to give certainty to our young people.

"I will set out on Tuesday how we intend to achieve that."

The controversy began when it emerged 26 per cent of all teacher estimates were changed by the SQA following their moderation process, with a higher proportion of grades changed for those from the poorest backgrounds than those in the most affluent areas.

Calls for Mr Swinney to resign then gathered pace before Scottish Labour announced their intention to table a motion of no confidence in the education secretary on Friday.

Both the First Minister and the education secretary had said the moderation was necessary to retain the “credibility” of the exam system, a position criticised by opposition parties.

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