Isles pupils do well in exams, easily outperforming the Scottish average

Weeks of suspense came to an end for hundreds of pupils around Shetland as the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) exam results for 2009 began arriving through letterboxes on Wednesday morning, with the council’s schools service hailing this year’s batch of results as another “excellent” achievement.

Early figures show that Shetland’s schoolchildren continue comfortably to outperform the national average, with a pass rate five per cent better than that across Scotland for higher exams.

Full analysis will be carried out over the coming days, but initial findings show that the proportion of candidates achieving a C grade or better at higher was up marginally on 2008 figures, while the proportion gaining a credit level award at standard grade was slightly down on the previous year.

The SQA’s national statistics show that a record number of Scottish teenagers have passed, with 98.5 per cent of 15- and 16-year-olds successful in their standard grade exams and more than three quarters passing at higher.

It is the best success rate since the exams were introduced more than 30 years ago, the SQA confirmed, and will lead to increased competition for university places.

The number of presentations at standard grade in Shetland fell by 206 on last year, which the schools service said appeared to relate to a drop in the school roll over the last year and the fact that an increased number of candidates are now being presented for intermediate qualifications as an alternative to standard grades.

Fifty-six per cent of candidates at standard grade achieved a credit award, compared with 59 per cent in 2008, while the number of higher passes at C or better was up two per cent to 79 per cent, some five per cent ahead of the national average.

The SNP has announced plans to radically overhaul the examination system from 2013, with the increasingly disliked standard and intermediate grades to be replaced by national qualifications at levels four and five, with the former being taken in secondary three and assessed internally by teachers. It means many less-able pupils will leave school without sitting a single exam.

Hayfield is carrying out a wide-ranging review into the future of education in the isles, which will look at how to reconcile the role of junior high schools with the guidelines laid down under the Curriculum for Excellence.

Chairman of the council’s services committee Gussie Angus said he wished to congratulate all the teachers and young people for their hard work. He said: “In a time of educational change, Shetland schools can reflect on the excellent achievement of their pupils.”

Anderson High School head teacher Valerie Nicolson said that, although she was still working with raw data and lists of names, she was pleased with the SQA results on the whole. “It seems that our young folk have improved upon predictions based on the prelim exams. They should be proud of their efforts,” she said.

The school’s breakdown saw more than 300 candidates sit higher exams across fifth and sixth year and Ms Nicholson said it appeared slightly more pupils had achieved three or more highers at their first attempt than last year. In total, nine pupils achieved five A grade passes in their first sitting, while there were also good passes among the sixth year pupils sitting advanced highers.

Meanwhile, 115 AHS candidates were entered for standard grades and Ms Nicolson said there had been some “splendid” sets of results from a wide range of pupils, with the number of credit level passes in line with the last few years and “just about everybody” achieving Maths or English at some level. She said: “I’m pleased to note that they seem to have fulfilled their potential, at all levels of ability, improving upon their prelim predictions.”

Ms Nicolson added that if, as a result of their SQA results, any pupil wished to change their future plans, they should contact the AHS on (01595) 692306 to make an appointment with their pupil support teacher. All appointments will take place on Monday 17th August.


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