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Highland exam results: The marks are in – showing Highland Council is improving year-on-year with pupil qualifications

By Louise Glen

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Exam results in Highland saw improvements at S4, S5 and S6.
Exam results in Highland saw improvements at S4, S5 and S6.

Across the board, Highland Council's pupil qualifications were improved on previous years as exam results are published for the region.

While this year, exam results for individuals were no surprise as they had previously been informed of their grade, the good news is that results for pupils were improved across the region.

This year, schools adapted to the Scottish Qualifications Authority’s Alternative Certification Model (ACM) with teachers' judgment at the forefront of grading pupils.

The ACM was originally developed in response to the cancellation of the National 5 courses in 2020. However, following the cancellation of Higher and Advanced Higher exams on December 8 2020, it was decided that the ACM would be expanded to cover these qualifications as well.

This year’s results show marked improvements when compared to the 2019 and 2018 sessions when there was a full examination diet.

In 2021:

  • 38.37% of S4 candidates achieved A-C passes in 5 or more Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 5 courses (National 5), up from 36.47% in 2019 and 37.03% in 2018.
  • 70.13% of S4 candidates achieved 5 or more Awards at SCQF 4 or better, up from 67.94% in 2019 and 68.09% in 2018.
  • 40.60% of S5 candidates achieved A-D passes at SCQF Level 6 (Higher level), compared to 40.11% in 2019 and 39.80% in 2018. The percentage of S5 candidates achieving 5 SCQF 6 Awards at Grade A is 6.36%, ahead of the 2019 figure of 3.46% and the 2018 figure of 2.69%.
  • There were also strong results in S6, with 36.87% of the cohort having cumulatively achieved 5 or more Awards at SCQF 6, compared to 34.12% in 2019 and 33.82% in 2018.
  • Level 7 (Advanced Higher) attainment also showed improvement with 21.22% achieving at least one Award at this level, compared to 17.21% in 2019 and 19.95% in 2020.

Cllr John Finlayson, chairman of the education committee said: “This year’s data reflects the resilience and hard work of all of our young people, their families and their teachers as they delivered the Alternative Certification Model.

"There is much to celebrate in this year’s results and I would like to congratulate all who have achieved success despite the challenges of the past 18 months.

"And for those young people who are disappointed with any of their grades, don’t forget that there is a great deal of support available to you in your school to help you to decide what your next steps will be.

"For those young people in this position, I would urge you to contact your personal support teacher as they will be able to give you advice, as will Skills Development Scotland Officers

Nicky Grant, executive chief officer for education and learning in Highland saidd: “Session 2020/21 was a complex and demanding year for everyone involved in delivering SQA courses and for the young people who produced the evidence of attainment that was required for certification. As detailed in national guidance, we were advised not to make comparisons with the 2020 data set to those in previous or future years. We are delighted that the 2021 results show improvements on the attainment data prior to 2020. We are very proud of the achievements of all of our pupils and we look forward to supporting them as they make the next steps in their learning during session 2021/22.”

Highland Council’s Chief Executive, Donna Manson, a former was keen to praise the attainment of young people affected by deprivation.

She said: “I am especially proud of the achievements of our young people facing significant challenges in their lives.

"For example, young people living in vulnerable circumstances achieved a 91.8% pass rate at National 5, which is 7.2% higher than the equivalent group in 2019.

"Similarly, young people from the post codes most affected by deprivation achieved a pass rate of 91.2% at higher level, compared to 85.8% in 2019.

"This is a tribute to the work of these young people and also to the support from families, teaching staff, support staff and staff in social work and health who all work to help our most vulnerable young people across the Highlands.”

READ: Inverness exam results: numbers of UK students calling Childline fearing exam results has doubled in a year, due to Covid

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