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by Kirsteen Paterson
09 August 2022
Exam results day: Pass rates slip to 'near record' levels

Pupils from Auchmuty High School, Fife, celebrate their exam results

Exam results day: Pass rates slip to 'near record' levels

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has hailed students' success in this year’s Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) exams, despite a drop in the pass rate for Scottish pupils.

On exam results day, it has been confirmed that the pass rate for learners sitting their exams is down when compared to the record high of the past two years, when Covid pandemic measures were in place.

However, the Scottish Government said the rates remain at "near record" level. Somerville said: "This is one of the strongest ever sets of results for any exam year, which is particularly impressive given the significant challenges learners have faced as a result of the pandemic."

Around 138,000 students from 500 schools and colleges receive their marks today - the highest total since 2017.

The number securing grades of A-C at Higher level is 78.9 per cent this year, down from 87.3 per cent last year. However, this year's level is higher than the 74.8 per cent rate of 2019, which was the last exam diet before Covid struck.

At National 5 level, the pass rate is 80.8 per cent, which is also down on last year but up on 2019.

At Advanced Higher level, the pass rate is 81.3 per cent.

The pandemic saw exams cancelled for two years, with rows over grading. This year the SQA said it is difficult to compare attainment over recent years, but universities and employers should remain confident that standards have been maintained.

There has been additional support for learners this year, and Somerville said that a return to exams in 2022 is "not a return to normality". She said: "The approach to exams reflected the disruption to teaching and learning that young people faced and a wide-ranging package of support and modifications was put in place. 

"I am confident that the approach, which was informed by views from across the education system, as well as learners, has delivered a credible, consistent and fair set of results for our young people."

Adding that there are "many different pathways to success", she went on: "While the results show the gap between attainment levels in the least and most deprived areas has narrowed from the 2019 level, we know that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted learners from more disadvantaged backgrounds. We are determined to accelerate the progress that has been made and we are investing a record £1bn in the Scottish Attainment Challenge during this parliamentary term."

Scottish Labour education spokesperson Michael Marra said the system "penalises the poorest young people" and accused the SNP government of not having a plan for change. He said: "The achievements of our young people are masking system-wide problems. These results are on a reduced curriculum - yet further evidence of the significant loss of learning and knowledge across Scotland's education system."

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