25th September 2018
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Pupils’ efforts applauded as exam results are (finally) delivered

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Exam results for secondary pupils were officially delivered today, with education chiefs hailing “another good performance” by Shetland pupils. The results, which everyone should have now received, in spite of mail delays due to fog, show “the very high standards of previous years continue to be maintained across all of the examination results”, according to the schools service.

A total of 619 pupils sat 3,433 exams this year including 1,777 Standard Grades, 803 Highers and 91 Advanced Highers as well as intermediate and access level qualifications.

At Higher level, 80 per cent achieved at least one C grade or better in at least one subject, the same figure as last year. The percentage of Higher candidates who achieved at least one A grade also remained the same, with five per cent achieving the top grade. One particularly gratifying statistic is that 87 per cent of Advanced Higher students achieved at least one C grade or better in at least one subject, a significant increase from 67 per cent in 2010.

Of those taking Standard Grades, 60 per cent of candidates achieved a credit (grade 1 or 2), compared with 58 per cent in 2010. Eighty-four per cent of those sitting Intermediate 2 qualifications achieved a C grade or better in at least one subject, a rise of two per cent from 2010. There was also a four per cent increase in those achieving at least one A grade at Intermediate 2.

Head of children’s services Helen Budge said: “These excellent results are testament to the hard work and dedication of our pupils and the staff in schools. Shetland has very high standards when it comes to exam passes, so I’m really delighted that we are maintaining those high standards.”

Two pupils from the Anderson High School also sat a new qualification called the Scottish Baccalaureate, introduced for the first time in Scotland in August 2009. It can be taken in either language or science and involves the pupil working on their own project outwith school, perhaps in a college, workplace or in the community.

This year’s results came through in a piecemeal fashion, however. Those who had opted to get their results by text message received them on Wednesday, one day before those who had asked for email or by post, as a result of an error by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). But fog on Wednesday led to the cancellation of flights, resulting in the postal results being sent on the boat and only arriving yesterday morning. A spokesman for Royal Mail re-assured those waiting that all results would be sent out that day. The exam results were separated from the normal mail, he said, and extra runs were laid on to make sure pupils even in remote areas received them.

The embarrassing text glitch affected around 29,000 pupils across Scotland, and an inquiry by the SQA is now underway with the external contractor responsible for sending the messages. Mrs Budge said it was “vexing”, but it would not make much difference, adding: “We just want the young people who received messages to be aware they are definitely the correct results.”

Commenting on the results, head teacher of Anderson High School Valerie Nicolson said: “At this early stage, it seems that AHS pupils have achieved at least what they expected from their prelim exams, and in many cases far more. All should be very proud of their efforts.”

Around 95 pupils at AHS sat Standard Grades, taken at the end of fourth year when pupils are on average 16 years old. Ms Nicolson said: “I am pleased to note that they seem to have fulfilled their potential, at all levels of ability, improving upon their prelim predictions. There are some splendid individual sets of results from a wide range of pupils. The numbers of credit level passes seems to be in line with the last few years with just about everybody achieving English and maths at some level.”

About 175 candidates from fifth year, and over 100 from sixth year, took Highers. These are still the main qualification for university and college and can be sat in both years, as can intermediate examinations, which can prepare for Highers in the future. Advanced Highers are specialised qualifications offered mainly to class six pupils, and are often chosen as preparation for first year university courses.

Ms Nicolson said: “Universities still consider Highers, particularly at first sitting in fifth year, as their entry requirement. Class five and class six examination results are much harder to interpret for us, with pupils sitting Highers and intermediates in fifth and sixth year.”

However she said that Higher results seemed to be in line with what was predicted, and in common with national trends, more pupils were sitting a combination of Higher and intermediate exams in class five.

In other results from the AHS the pass rate in Higher English was deemed good and the pass rate in Higher maths was in line with the national picture. Eleven young people have achieved five A grade passes in their Highers at first sitting. Ms Nicolson said: “This is a remarkable accomplishment.” In addition more pupils than last year successfully completed Advanced Higher courses.

Brae High School head teacher Colin Kirkness declared himself delighted with the pupils’ results. He said: “A detailed analysis of the grades will occur during the first week back but our initial impression is that they are an excellent set of results, with many pupils at all levels achieving great personal success.

“As a school it looks as if the overall Higher results in particular are the best for a number of years. Congratulations to pupils and staff for their hard work throughout the year.” A quick check of results revealed at least one pupil with five As in their Highers and several others with four As and a B.

Sandwick Junior High School head teacher Stuart Clubb said: “First impressions are that the results seem to be very good and I’m pleased with the effort the staff and pupils have put in to make this possible.”

Congratulating pupils on their results, president of the National Union of Students Scotland Robin Parker said: “School pupils should be proud of the hard work they put in over the past weeks and months, and it’s certainly a day for parents and young people to be proud.”

He said that the union would continue its campaign to make sure university places were genuinely open, based on ability and potential, to people from all backgrounds, and that pupils who did not get in this year should not give up.

He said: “Students who cannot get a place at university this year should not be too disheartened and apply again next year. Going to university is a brilliant experience, and unlike down south the opportunity to attend without paying tuition fees will still be available in the coming years.”

• If, as a result of the SQA results, any AHS pupil wishes to change their plans, they should contact the school on (01595) 808008, and make an appointment with their pupil support teacher. Appointments will take place on Monday 15th August. Brae High School pupils can contact the school on (01595) 745600 and a results surgery will also be held on 15th August from 11am to 3pm.

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About Rosalind Griffiths

I am a Shetland Times reporter covering news, including health stories, and features. I have been in Shetland for more than 30 years.

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