EDUCATION Secretary John Swinney has argued there was “no real value” in recording details of meetings with SQA bosses in the months before the exam results scandal.

Swinney tasked the SQA with developing an alternative system of awarding grades after schools were closed and tests cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A backlash forced the Scottish Government to change its decision after the moderation process was revealed to have disproportionately downgraded pupils in disadvantaged areas.

Following a week of widespread criticism and protests, the Scottish Government agreed to reinstate the grades teachers had estimated to those pupils who received lower marks as a result of moderation.

A vote of no confidence in Swinney was tabled by Scottish Labour but was defeated.

The SQA has since suggested no minutes were recorded at eight separate meetings between the Education Secretary, the exams authority’s chief executive Fiona Robertson and officials.

The meetings took place between March and results day on August 4.

Challenged at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing on Friday about an alleged “cover-up”, the Deputy First Minister insisted there is a “vast amount” of information available about their discussions.

He added: “When it comes to the taking of minutes in various meetings, there are some situations where there are presentations of information set out for which there is no real value in setting out a minute.

“The Government makes judgments about which are the appropriate settings for those discussions to take place.”

Scottish Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray previously said there was an “unacceptable” lack of transparency by Mr Swinney and the SQA.

Mr Gray told The Scotsman: “He has always claimed that he did not engage or interfere with the development of the moderation by the SQA.

“Now we see that he was in regular contact with them throughout the critical months.

“Yet the SQA claim no minutes, notes or agendas were kept for these conversations in spite of evidence to the contrary.

“This is an attempt to hide something.”

He added: “It is an unacceptable level of secrecy about how decisions were made which affected hundreds of thousands of pupil grades.

“The SQA and Mr Swinney are still trying to cover up their incompetence.

“This was a fiasco and it should have cost the Education Secretary his job.”