Pupils at schools in Scotland received their exam results this week, with more than a quarter of teacher estimates changed by moderators.

More than 93 per cent of adjusted teacher estimates were lowered in the moderation process by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

Education secretary John Swinney said that schools will be able to appeal grades for free this year – something that will be welcomed by independent schools unhappy with their students' grades in National 5, Highers and Advanced Highers.

Under the usual system, schools are charged between £10 and £40 if they ask for a student’s exam paper to be checked or reviewed and the grade subsequently remains unchanged.

Education adviser Helen Wright told ISMP that some teachers across sectors could be "devastated" by grade changes, which could raise important HR issues.

She said: "This is the workforce, you depend on them being engaged, ready for the new term, it's been a year like no other.

"If independent schools aren't careful to look after the needs of staff at this time, you could end up with more staff sickness and absence."

Exams across the UK were cancelled this year due to the coronavirus outbreak and results have been calculated on a combination of teacher estimates and independent moderation.

Scotland's exam results day was marred by disappointment for thousands of pupils who received worse grades than they had been expecting. Experts called the way results had been calculated “unfair” and “arbitrary”.

In independent schools specifically, the Scottish Council of Independent Schools said its 74 member schools had shown very strong results in languages, with 82 per cent of students achieving a Higher grade A in Mandarin, the Edinburgh Reporter writes.

In other languages, 88 per cent of those studying German, 81 per cent of those studying French and 70 per cent studying Spanish also achieved an A.  

Overall, students at Scotland’s independent schools achieved A – C passes in 95 per cent of National 5, 94 per cent of Higher and 94 per cent of Advanced Highers in all subjects.

John Edward, director of SCIS, said: “I am thrilled to see Scotland’s independent schools achieve such outstanding results despite the unprecedented challenges they faced during the pandemic."

He said it was  "particularly encouraging" to see so many pupils flourish in languages.