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Positive exam results in first full year of new SQA qualifications

Positive exam results in first full year of new SQA qualifications

Exam results - credit Scottish Government

Scottish pupils have received their exam results, achieving the second highest number of Higher passes on record.

More than 140,000 students got their results this morning in the post or by text message.

The introduction of the new Advanced Highers means it is the first year candidates have sat the full range of new qualifications introduced as part of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).


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For the first time all schools offered the new Higher following last year’s phased introduction.

Dr Janet Brown, chief executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, said: “These results are testament to the dedication of the entire Scottish education system, working in partnership for the benefit of our young people.”

There were 152,701 Higher passes, down from 156,000 last year. However it is still the second highest ever, up more than 40,000 in the last decade.

This is despite some controversy surrounding this year’s exams.

A survey of staff and pupils published last week revealed experiences of the new CfE qualifications had been overwhelmingly negative, particularly around ongoing assessments. Teaching unions have voted to strike over the associated workload.

Furthermore, this year’s Higher English exam was changed at the last minute by the SQA after a reported leak.

Thousands signed a petition in May complaining the exam was too difficult. Today’s results reveal it had an A-C attainment rate of 78.8 per cent. Unlike last year's adjustment to Higher Maths, when the pass rate was reduced to just 34 per cent, this year's Higher English remained at 50 per cent.

Ahead of the results 28,300 Scottish applicants were accepted at universities in advance of clearing, the highest level of entry recorded. The number will rise as further offers are accepted. The vast majority (27,400) will go to a Scottish university.

Universities Scotland said there has been a five per cent increase in the university entry rate of students from the most deprived areas of Scotland.

Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland called for the Scottish Government to increase the number of funded places.

“The number getting a university place today is something to celebrate but there will be many who miss out despite being very capable. Additional funded places would help universities to drive widening access further and ensure that highly qualified and well-deserving applicants, whatever their background, get the chance of a university education,” he said.

This year’s increase in those accepted to university has largely been driven by a 9.2 per cent increase in students over 20.

Attainment in qualifications relating to practical skills and professional development such as National Certificates and National Progression Awards increased by a quarter.

Education secretary and Deputy First Minister John Swinney congratulated the successful students.

“The results also demonstrate the changing nature of Scotland’s education system, as it responds to the challenge set by the Developing the Young Workforce programme,” he said.

“That approach seeks to prepare our young people better to enter the world of work by offering them much more choice and flexibility in their education path than traditional qualifications alone.”

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