In a humiliating climb-down the Scottish government has announced the cancellation of all pupil grades lowered during the school results fiasco. John Swinney, the Scottish education secretary, apologised to the 75,000 pupils whose teacher estimates – a replacement for exam results – were downgraded, reassuring pupils and parents that he would direct the SQA to re-issue their awards based solely on teacher or lecturer judgment. The change of policy is incredibly damaging for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who initially supported the SQA’s decision but has been forced into the most embarrassing U-turn of her leadership.