Scotland’s exams agency needs to get its act together.

For years the SQA has been distrusted by teachers and pupils, the subject of complaints from its former and current staff and demonstrated time and again a culture at senior management level of frankly breath- taking arrogance.

And that was all before this summer’s grading shambles.

From the day schools were closed in March, the Greens and others closely scrutinised the SQA’s plans for replacing cancelled exams. By April, I had already raised concerns that these plans would be a disaster, particularly for working class young people.

I raised this directly with the SQA and the education secretary, John Swinney. I was ignored.

The SQA decided to use the historic exam performance of a school to ‘moderate’ the grades of individual pupils, as submitted by their teachers.

As I warned, this meant that working class young people saw their grades lowered, regardless of their individual hard work or history of achievement. They were being graded on their postcode.

When results day came in August, teachers, pupils and their families revolted. They wouldn’t accept 124,565 grades lowered by the SQA, and neither would the Scottish Greens.

Fortunately, the SNP don’t have a majority of seats in Parliament, so faced with a vote of no confidence they’d otherwise lose, they were forced to negotiate.

I gave four clear demands, which had to be met in full for them to secure the Greens’ support, the most important of which was restoring all 124,565 lowered grades to their original levels. All four demands were met in full.

Back in August though, we didn’t yet have the details of just how unfair the SQA’s system had been.

We now know for example that Dumbarton Academy was the school worst affected locally. Thirty per cent of Higher grades were lowered, including 17 per cent from a pass to a fail. At Our Lady and St Patrick’s, 20 per cent of Highers were downgraded.

Meanwhile, private schools saw only 5 per cent of their Highers changed from pass to fail.

I’m glad we were able to fix the SQA’s mess, even if it was entirely avoidable had they just listened to the Greens, education experts and teachers’ unions in the first place.

I have no faith, though, that the exams agency have learnt their lesson. Indeed, they pointedly refused to apologise.

We’ve at least persuaded the Government to cancel next year’s National 5 exams and replace them with a clear system of continuous assessment, to prevent any Covid disruption.

That same logic applies to Highers though. We can’t guarantee that exams next May will go ahead, and we certainly cannot afford a repeat of this year.

So maybe, for the first time, the SQA should just listen.