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MSP hails record number of Higher passes


By Alan Beresford

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THE record number of passes at Higher has been hailed by local MSP Karen Adam.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Karen Adam.
Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Karen Adam.

While Higher passes are at their highest since devolution, Advanced Higher passes have surpassed all previous records since the exam was first introduced in 2001

Almost 137,000 learners are receiving Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) results today – the most since 2017.

Pass rates overall remain high, despite the exceptional challenges caused by the Covid-19 crisis, and are significantly higher than the historic picture – up 12.6 percentage points for Highers compared with 2019, but down slightly on last year.

With an exam diet not possible because of the pandemic, this year’s grades for National 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers were based on teachers’ judgement of evidence of attainment.

Congratulating Scotland's young people, Ms Adam said: “Results day is a big milestone for Scotland's young people as SQA results are being received.

"I wish everyone the best of luck and I hope you receive the results you are aspiring for. This past year has been incredibly tough and regardless of results I want to emphasise that there is no wrong path to a bright future.

“No matter what your results are, there are options and free support available on the results helpline 0808 100 8000.

“BSL users can utilise Contact Scotland to use the same service to access an interpreter who can make the call for you at www.contactscotland-bsl.org

“In addition to the work by students over the past year, I know parents, teachers and carers have been working incredibly hard to support students. I'd like to thank you all for doing such an incredible job in supporting our young people during what is a stressful time for so many.”

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville.
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said Scottish students had achieved a "strong set of results" in "extraordinary circumstances".

“It’s been one of the toughest academic years we’ve ever known, with the pandemic throwing significant challenges at our young people," she continued.

"So to have this many learners receiving certificates and for the number of passes at Higher and Advanced Higher to be so high is incredible.

“These results are testament to the hard work, resilience and determination of learners – and to the dedication of their endlessly supportive teachers and lecturers, who have been with them every step of the way, going above and beyond to make sure pupils got the grades they deserve.

“Learners can be confident that their awards are fair, consistent and credible. Indeed, industry representatives have made it clear how much they value this year’s qualifications.

“As in any year, the results highlight some areas for us to focus attention on. Closing the poverty-related attainment gap and ensuring every young person has the chance to fulfil their potential remains central to our work. We know that the challenges presented by the pandemic mean our efforts to deliver equity in education are more vital than ever, so we are investing a further £1 billion over the course of this parliament to help close the gap.

“While congratulating those receiving SQA results today, we should also recognise, and celebrate in equal measure, the successes of young people whose achievements are not measured in national qualifications but in other ways. They should be proud of their hard work and resilience during such a difficult year.

“For some young people, today’s results may not be what they would have liked. There is always a next step - and there is a range of support and practical advice available for learners, and their parents and carers, to help in that onward journey, whether it’s staying in education, training, or moving into the workplace.”


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