Next year's Higher and Advanced Higher exams have been cancelled, John Swinney has confirmed.

The Education Secretary's announcement to the Scottish Parliament follows concerns that allowing the tests to take place would disproportionately impact pupils in the most deprived areas of the country.

Mr Swinney told parliament that pupils had lost significant amount of teaching time due the pandemic, with poorer communities suffering more.

He said deciding to cancel exams was based on considerations of fairness.

Next year’s National 5 exams had already been cancelled and will be replaced with teacher-estimated grades after Mr Swinney said holding a full diet would be “simply too big a risk” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Data shows as many as 15 per cent of all S4 pupils were not in attendance at school as of November 24.

Schools in the most deprived areas had significantly higher rates of non-attendance than those in the least deprived areas.

Explaining his decision, Mr Swinney told Parliament: "We need a model that is more flexible to the specific circumstances of the individual pupil.

"That model exists. It is the model we plan to use to award qualification this year for National 5s."

He also said the model would be based on learner evidence to produce a fair set of results for each pupil, adding: "I am therefore announcing today that there will be no Higher or Advanced Higher exams in 2021."