Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up


Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
13 August 2020
John Swinney to face vote of no confidence

Parliament TV

John Swinney to face vote of no confidence

Education Secretary John Swinney faces a vote of no confidence over the handling of the exams controversy.

The Scottish Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservative parties have said they will support the motion, brought by Labour’s education spokesperson Iain Gray.

But the vote is expected to be defeated as the Scottish Greens confirmed they would not support the motion, after securing all their demands in a government u-turn.

Swinney announced to parliament on Tuesday that all pupils who had their exam results downgraded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) will be reissued with grades based on teacher or lecturer judgement.

Around 134,000 teacher estimates were adjusted by the SQA, with just under 76,000 pupils having one or more results lowered.

Pupils from poorest backgrounds were hardest hit, with results being downgraded based on a school’s past performance rather than a pupil’s individual ability.

Swinney said he was sorry and confirmed the SQA will issue fresh certificates “as soon as possible”.

He also announced an independent review of the events following the cancellation of the exams diet due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, the OECD has been asked to look into how Scotland’s approach to assessments and qualifications could be improved.

On Wednesday the SQA chief executive Fiona Robertson told Holyrood’s Education and Skills committee that she regretted “the circumstances of the last week” but stopped short of apologising for its system of exam moderation that lead to the downgrading and subsequent u-turn.

Robertson said that the SQA’s role was to maintain the “integrity” of qualifications and that part of the commission from the Scottish Government was to make sure that standards were maintained.

She said she had a responsibility not just to this year’s young people, but those in previous and future years.

There was a “clear and unequivocal case” for moderation, she said, and the SQA “delivered on the Scottish Government’s initial request”.

The vote will be debated at 15:20 on Thursday.

No-confidence motions are not legally binding but are seen as an expression of the parliament’s opinion.

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by - The dangers of disinformation.




Society & Welfare

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox


Popular reads
Back to top