Deputy First Minister joins Forth Valley pupils on exam results day

Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney joined pupils at Forth Valley College today as they celebrated their exam results.

Mr Swinney congratulated students from Larbert High School, St Modan’s High School in Stirling and Alloa Academy on their various achievements.

He also announced a rise in National 5 qualifications and a fall in Highers.

In total 133,000 Scottish students received their results today, some by post, while almost half opted for the more modern method of receiving a text or email.

Larbert High School pupils Matthew Bell, Mari Smith, Matthew Simpson, Ava Gray, Cameron Wilson, Lauren McAlpine, Chloe McFarlane and Mitchell Anderson were in attendance at the Forth Valley College event and said they were all “very happy” with their results.

Ava (17) said: “I want to pursue a career in law and possibly become a prosecutor one day so I am staying on at school for one more year to enable me to gain more qualifications for that.”

Cameron (17) said he too was “chuffed” with his grades and was considering a pharmacy career.

School leaver Lauren (18) who studied for an HNC in Police Studies is hoping to join the police while Chloe McFarlane (17) passed her Foundation Apprenticeship qualification in Social Services: Children and Young People and will now go on to study for a HNC at Forth Valley College.

Mitchell Anderson (17) has secured a chemical engineering apprenticeship with petrochemicals giant Ineos which he said he “can’t wait” to start on August 22.

Larbert High School rector Jon Reid said he was “extremely proud” of all students.

“I’m sure there were lots of nerves today as they opened their certificates or received their texts with their results but they have all done so well and it’s fantastic to see the thousands of hours of learning and studying and the hard work of teachers has paid off.

“What I am particularly pleased about is the range of different qualifications they have achieved. Traditionally it was all about National 5s and Highers but this year we have HNCs, Foundation Apprenticeships, Skills for Work courses – a much broader range of qualifications young people have achieved that will open doors to where they want to go in the future and that’s the most important thing.”

This year’s results saw an increase in National 5 entry and pass rates.

The improvements include an increase of 4.4 per cent in passes for English and a 1.3 per cent rise in Maths, with an increase in entries of 2.4 per cent overall.

The pass rate for Higher qualifications decreased by two percentage points to 74.8 per cent although passes in Science Highers increased by 1.4 per cent.

More than 54,000 skills-based qualifications have been achieved this year, providing learners with the skills needed to help them move into employment, further or higher education.

Congratulating all pupils on their achievements Mr Swinney said: “These are a strong set of results which show a degree of year on year variation expected in a high performing education system with credible assessment.

“I am pleased to see an overall rise in the pass rate for National 5 with increases in passes for Maths and English. At Higher level we have seen a welcome upturn in the collective number of passes for the sciences – something we have focused our efforts on for some time.

“Our learners now have a much wider range of choice than ever before, allowing them to find the route into employment or further education that is right for them.

“There has been a sustained increase in the number of skills-based qualifications, with 54,406 awards achieved this year, more than double the figure attained in 2012 and a rise of over 4000 awards on last year.

“These qualifications provide our learners with the vital knowledge and experience specifically valued by employers.

“While three-quarters of Higher candidates gained a pass at A-C, there has been a fall in the overall pass rate. This year for the first time we saw the removal of unit assessments at Higher level, a move that was broadly supported by the education sector.

“If the pass rate only ever went up people would rightly question the robustness of our assessment system.

“We need to continue to ensure teachers have the right support in place to help them provide the best learning and teaching experiences for our young people.

“Our planned review of the senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence, announced earlier this year with the backing of the Parliament, will help us to better understand how the curriculum is being implemented in schools and identify any areas where we can collaborate with the education system to further improve the quality of education for our pupils.”

Students and parents can access information and support from careers advisors via the Skills Development Scotland exam results helpline on 0808 100 8000.

SQA candidate advice can also be accessed by calling 0345 279 1000.