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.

THE return to school after the summer holidays is always a momentous occasion, especially for those starting primary school or transitioning to secondary.

I still recall my children heading off for the first time, as well as setting off myself to high school.

The former is a tender moment for every parent and the latter is daunting for every child.

They’re a life milestone, but especially so this year.

Coronavirus has been traumatic for all: young people whose education has been disrupted, parents who’ve had to adjust to having them at home and assisting in their schooling, and teachers who have had to adapt to a changed world.

Preparing to return has also been hard, given late notice and the restrictions required to battle Covid-19.

It has been frustrating for pupils and parents but the staff at council and in schools deserve enormous thanks for their efforts.

It was never going to be easy and there’ll be issues along the way, with perhaps even further changes needed to be made.

But we’re in a new world and that’s only to be expected. Allowances will have to be made for that and support given, not just criticism made of staff and officials struggling to adjust.

What matters most is getting the young folk back into school – not only for their educational development but the socialisation that goes along with it.

For some, there’ll be additional issues over examinations. The SQA has got this one wrong.

Anything that discriminates against those from the most deprived backgrounds is perverse and those best placed to judge during these exceptional times are the teachers who’ve been supervising them.

Too many young people have been disadvantaged for it to be addressed solely by individual appeals. This is a systemic failure and wider change must follow.

It seems that Parliament is going to ensure that and in the interim I have made it clear to headteachers I’ll be prepared to support them in appeals they’re making on pupils’ behalf.