NICOLA Sturgeon has been warned Scotland faces a second "exams crisis" as she was accused of failing to listen to pupils.

Scottish Labour said refusing to act will see a repeat of the scenes last summer, when young people took to the streets to protest unfair results. 

The Tories accused the First Minister of overseeing "the same shambles as last year", but with a more "sleekit" system.

Ms Sturgeon insisted this year's grades will not be based on algorithms, statistical models or the historical performance of schools, but on teacher judgment.

Awards are being given by teachers as the coronavirus crisis has forced the cancellation of formal exams for the second year in a row.  

But many pupils still had to sit assessments this year, with questions also being raised about an appeals system which means youngsters could see their results downgraded.

Tens of thousands of pupils had their results upgraded last year following outcry over a moderation system that took into account the past performance of schools.

This saw pupils from deprived areas hit harder than their wealthier counterparts. 

Raising the issue at First Minister's Questions, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said this year's system is simply a “more sleekit” repeat of last year's "shambles". 

He highlighted an Education Scotland report indicating three-quarters of councils are analysing pupil’s grades using historical attainment data.

Mr Ross said: “This is the same shambles as last year – it’s just more sleekit. 

"Instead of the SQA [Scottish Qualifications Authority] marking pupils down at the end of the process, the system will force teachers and schools to do it first.

“The harsh reality of this system is, if you’re lucky enough to attend a consistently high achieving school, your grades probably won’t be reviewed. 

"But if you attend your local school where people work hard but not everyone gets 5 As – the kind of schools the First Minister and I both went to – then your grades are more likely to be lowered.

“Young people feel cheated by another deeply unfair system that judges where they’re from, not how they did.

“The life chances of tens of thousands of pupils are at stake. The 2021 exams crisis has already started. But this government acts as if nothing is wrong."

Ms Sturgeon said awards are based on teacher judgment, adding: "That teacher judgment is evidenced by the attainment of pupils, not by past results or by algorithms. 

"No learner's grades will be marked down or up because of their school's past performance."

However, the First Minister said there is a "quality assurance" process in place. 

This will identify whether a school has "provisional grades that appear to be significantly out of step with past performance", Ms Sturgeon said. 

If that happens, she said, provisional grades are checked again by the relevant teacher - but results will not change if the teacher stands by the grade. 

Ms Sturgeon added: "When the provisional grades are submitted to the SQA they will not be changed because of a school's past performance.

"That is a world away from the situation last year, where algorithms and the past performance of schools automatically changes the performance and the grades of some pupils.

"That is not happening. This is a system that is based on teacher judgment, evidenced by the work that pupils have actually done throughout the year.

"Awards this year are based on teacher judgment, teachers arrive at those judgments by looking at the attainment, the work, that pupils have done.

"There are no past results or algorithms that dictate what an individual learner's grade will be."  

Ms Sturgeon accused Mr Ross of "misrepresenting" the exam results process. 

She also faced calls from both Mr Ross and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar to guarantee that no pupil who appeals their marks will have that result downgraded.

A so-called "symmetrical model" is being used for appeals, which can see results changed either up or down - with Ms Sturgeon saying this system had been used in previous years and is also being used in England.

Mr Ross said the system means students will have to "roll the dice with their future", while Mr Sarwar said Scotland is in the midst of a "second exams crisis" as he called for a "no detriment" appeals system to be implemented.

The First Minister said she recognises there are "different views" on how the appeals process should be conducted.

But she added: "On balance, in common with other parts of the UK and past experience, it has been decided to adopt the symmetrical process. Because that is fair because it is based only on the attainment of young people."  

Speaking after FMQs, Mr Sarwar said: “Nicola Sturgeon can try and deny it, but we are in the midst of a second exam crisis."

He added: “There has been a year to develop a system that worked, but there are now just days to improve the flawed process and no sign that Nicola Sturgeon is listening.

“The SNP must listen to Scotland’s children and young people and introduce a no detriment appeals policy, and make personal circumstances part of the appeals criteria.

“Failure to do so will mean another exam crisis and a repeat of the the scenes of last summer, where children must take to the street to get the results they deserve.”