Exam Results

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 5 September 2019.

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Photo of Gordon Lindhurst Gordon Lindhurst Conservative

5. To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the recent Scottish Qualifications Authority exam results and whether they reflect the strength of the education system. (S5O-03493)

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Scotland has a high-performing education system with credible and respected national qualifications resulting in approximately three quarters of candidates at higher securing a pass at A to C.

There has been an increase in entries, passes and pass rates at national 5, including a rise of 4.4 per cent in passes for English and 1.3 per cent in passes for maths.

The results include a range of successes beyond national qualifications, including more than 54,000 skills-based qualifications, which is more than double the level that was achieved in 2012. That shows that the education system provides learners with much more choice than ever before, allowing them to find the pathway that is correct for them.

Photo of Gordon Lindhurst Gordon Lindhurst Conservative

We have just seen the second worst results at national 5, the worst results at higher—the fourth year of such a decline—and the worst results at advanced higher. The cabinet secretary was quick to take credit when, previously, pupils performed well. Will he now take responsibility for these worse results and for the Scottish National Party’s cuts to teacher numbers and subject choice limitations, which are holding back our young people from achieving?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Gordon Lindhurst should know me well enough to know that I take responsibility for my actions as a minister. I am also prepared to take responsibility for and pride in what young people in Scotland achieve. Seventy-five per cent of candidates are achieving a pass at higher and scoffing at that is the wrong approach for the Conservatives to take.

If the exam pass rate continually increased, the Conservatives would be the first people telling us that the exams were not rigorous enough, as Liz Smith tried to tell us yesterday about national 4. There will be volatility in exam results year on year in a high-performing education system, and we should celebrate the achievements of young people in Scotland.