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Scotland axes downgraded exam grades in prelude to possible UK problems

FILE PHOTO: Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney visits Stonelaw High School on the day pupils receive their exam results, in Rutherglen, Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, August 4, 2020. Exams were cancelled in Scotland due to the coronavirus pandemic and pupils have been awarded grades based on assessment. Andy Buchanan/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Scottish students will have downgraded examination results used to secure university places raised back to original levels set by teachers, as Edinburgh faces anger at a problem caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which could also play out in England.

With almost no examinations taking place, teachers graded pupils in key subjects and the marks were then moderated by examination boards. To the dismay of pupils and parents, 75,000 young people saw their grades revised down.

Similar issues could begin to emerge on Thursday when students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their A level results, on which many university places are based.

“All downgraded awards will be withdrawn,” said Scotland’s education minister John Swinney.

“In exceptional times, truly difficult decisions have to be made. It is deeply regrettable that we got this wrong and I am sorry for that.”

Whilst England and Scotland operate different systems, both saw schools shut for most pupils from March, forcing the cancellation of many examinations and prompting special procedures to be implemented.

The regulator in England, Ofqual, has said it will weigh up a number of factors as it issues marks later this week, including ensuring that the grades allow pupils to fairly compete with previous and future cohorts.

“We have put in place special arrangements for this summer to make sure that the vast majority of students will receive calculated grades, so they can progress to further study or employment as expected,” it said in late July.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison