SCOTTISH pupils are to be judged on the coursework without sitting exams, as the nation prepares for lockdown.

It comes as the Scottish Qualification Authority school exams have been cancelled for the first time in more than 130 years.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced that the measure was being taken amid school closures, and due to the ongoing coronavirus situation.

It was announced earlier today that six people had died in Scotland due to the Covid-19 outbreak, with 266 confirmed cases across the country.

Mr Swinney said: "This is the first time this has happened since 1888. Through two world wars, we have never had to cancel exams before."

He added: "This shows the unprecedented nature of what we are facing."

HeraldScotland: John Swinney

Fiona Robertson, SQA chief executive and Scotland's chief examining officer, said the plan is that any units and coursework are completed and estimated grades are provided by teachers, drawing on the available evidence gathered throughout the year, to SQA’s existing deadlines.

She said they are still planning on learners receiving their results no later than August 4, as planned.

She said: "This is an unprecedented situation, and the closure of schools for an extended period will affect almost every family across Scotland.

"The Scottish Qualifications Authority has recently been working through a range of scenarios in relation to the exam diet, including disruption and postponement. However, as the Deputy First Minister has outlined in Parliament today, the exam diet in 2020 cannot go ahead and I have been asked by the Deputy First Minister to develop an alternative certification model.

READ MORE: Coronavirus in Scotland  -  2020 exam season cancelled for first time in history

"That work has started, at pace, and I will say more on that as soon as I can. What I can say now is that we want to ensure that we have as much information on the achievements of learners as possible.

"That is why the Deputy First Minister has asked schools and colleges to continue to work with young people to ensure that any units and coursework are completed and estimated grades are provided by teachers, drawing on the available evidence gathered throughout the year, to SQA’s existing deadlines, or earlier if that is possible. For many learners, we will also have prior attainment information which will be helpful to us.

"I fully appreciate that this will be an uncertain time for learners who have worked hard throughout the year and will now, with their families, be worried about what this means for them. Everyone here at SQA will do their utmost, with the support of the education system, to ensure that their hard work is rightly and fairly recognised, and allows them to proceed to further learning or work.

"We will work to ensure that learners receive their results no later than 4 August, as planned. We are considering more fully the impact this decision will have on our exceptional circumstances and post-results services. I will confirm that we will offer a free post-results service to ensure that schools and colleges continue to have a mechanism to question any result.

"I would strongly encourage all candidates to sign up to MySQA, our online and text service, as a direct way to receive their results.

"Everyone at SQA is fully committed to delivering for Scotland’s young people at this exceptionally difficult time. "

Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said that it recognised the need for the decision to scrap exams in "unprecendent circumstances".

He said:“Universities will work very closely with the Scottish Qualifications Authority, schools, government and others to make this work. We want to ensure that even in the extraordinary circumstances of the moment, learners are able to demonstrate their abilities and progress to higher education.”

“Scotland’s universities enrol significant numbers of new students from England and Wales every year so yesterday’s announcement from the UK Government’s to cancel school exams in England and Wales will have significant implications for universities here too. We’re working across both governments to understand the details behind the announcement and come up with a solution that works in these exceptional times.”