Editor's Note: This column was written in advance of John Swinney's announcement that grades which had been marked down by the SQA would be returned to the submitted grade provided by teachers.

AS I WRITE this column at the start of the week, the SQA exam results debacle remains the dominant issue, with thousands of young people across Scotland continuing to face huge uncertainty. With over 120,000 results downgraded and pupils in the most deprived areas penalised, appeals on a scale not seen before are now predicted.

The return to schools in these exceptional times will already be stressful for teachers. Add to that the tsunami of appeals that secondary teachers face having to process and there is a risk that the pressure will become overwhelming.

One way to fix this would be to revert to teachers’ estimates for grades which have been reduced. This would show pupils in the most disadvantaged areas, who were twice as likely to have results downgraded, that their hard work will ensure they have the same chances as those in more affluent areas.

I hope that is the course John Swinney takes this week. But even if he does finally do the right thing, this is only the latest in a series of catastrophic errors made during his time as Education Secretary. In June, the late switch from his blended learning plan to a full-time return to schools left teachers and other staff only weeks to prepare.

Before Covid-19, the SNP said they should be judged on their record on education, but the attainment gap has hardly shifted in 13 years. Mr Swinney was also forced to drop his “flagship” education bill and his standardised testing for P1s was widely condemned. He even ended Scotland’s participation in two long-standing international comparison surveys because the SNP did not like the results.

Given this abysmal record, it is time for Mr Swinney to be held accountable for his failings and go. I hope that by the time this column is published, we will have a new Education Secretary.