South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has said the impact of the recent exams fiasco on East Ayrshire is “absolutely heartbreaking”.

He has written directly to the First Minister calling for urgent action to reverse the downgrading of results in East Ayrshire.

The local MSP said: “The impact on East Ayrshire of the exams fiasco is absolutely heartbreaking.

“We need to remember behind these figures are children and young people absolutely devastated that their chances of college or university, even their subject choices next year, have been left it tatters by this scandal.

“These local figures blow out of the water the claims that schools have just been brought in line with previous years, when you see that the so-called moderation process has downgraded whole classes to way below that school’s past performance.

“I have spoken to some families whose children have been cut from top grades to fails. It’s just not good enough for the Government to say that the appeals process will fix this. Why should it be left to pupils and teachers, who will already be under huge pressure this week as schools go back, to now spend weeks preparing appeals to clear up a mess this Government caused? We need these results reversed now, not after appeal and that’s what I’m fighting for.

“What makes me so angry is the fact the Education Secretary and the SQA were warned months ago that this system would be a disaster and tragically that’s turned out to be true.

“With the fiasco over the full-time return to school and now this, it’s clear that the Education Secretary’s position is untenable.

“No one trusts him not to lurch to more scandals in the future and frankly our children’s education is too important to leave in his hands. He should step aside and more importantly the Government need to reconsider these results now.”

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