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Highlands Secondary Schools See Significantly Improved Attainment Results In S4, S5 And S6 Sqa Awards

1st October 2020

Secondary schools in Highland saw a significant improvement in attainment results in S4, S5 and S6 SQA results in August 2020.

Chair of the Education Committee, Councillor John Finlayson, said: "I wish to congratulate our young people, their families and our school staff across Highland for the significant improvement trends in attainment in S4, S5 and S6 year groups. This is an excellent result and it is a real achievement to see our schools focus on individual young people which makes a difference at the individual, school, and council level to results and exam performance."

The initial results, released on 4 August, showed that the SQA's moderation process had led to many changes to the estimates submitted by teachers. All Highland secondary schools had instances of grades being lowered.

Despite the large number of downgrades created by the SQA's initial moderation process (nearly a quarter of all grades awarded were downgraded from the estimate), the first run of results showed increases in attainment in Highland and nationally.

Across Highland, an analysis of the initial results from 4 August showed an improvement from last year (and across a five-year trend):

49.5% of S4 students achieved five or more National 5 awards (up from 46.2% in 2019)

22.2% of S5 students achieved 5 or more Highers (up from 21.9% in 2019)

38.3% of S6 candidates achieved at least one award at Advanced Higher (up 1.2% in 2019).

On 11 August, the Deputy First Minister announced that the moderation process used by SQA would no longer be the determinant of candidate grades and that, instead, the originally estimated grades submitted would be accepted as definitive. Therefore, the effect of reverting to teacher estimates has had a significant impact on overall attainment levels across Highland.

The revised attainment results, from 11 August, of the above analysis are now:

52.1% of S4 students achieved five or more National 5 awards (up from 46.2% in 2019)

23.5% of S5 students achieved 5 or more Highers (up from 21.9% in 2019)

39.2% of S6 candidates achieved at least one award at Advanced Higher (up 1.2% in 2019).

There were also improvements to be seen for young people in SIMD Deciles 1-2, young people who are most affected by socio-economic deprivation and the attainment gap between young people who are most affected and least affect by deprivation has narrowed in 11 of the 17 key measures.

Executive Chief Officer for Education and Learning, Nicky Grant, said: "In the Highlands, a strength of ours is a curriculum that is responsive to the contribution the community can make towards the skills and attributes of young people and keeping them on track with their learner journeys. The improvement in results are a tribute to our candidates and their families, and have been achieved due to the immense efforts of our classroom teachers, our Principal Teachers, Faculty Heads and Senior Management Teams in schools."


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