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Education / SIC education chairman ‘absolutely delighted’ with school results in challenging year

The pass rate for National 5 grades A-C in Shetland was above the Scottish average, while Higher and Advancer Higher were slightly below

A TOTAL of 572 pupils in secondary four to six across Shetland are receiving their school results today (Tuesday) in the second year in a row without formal exams.

Due to continued restrictions around the pandemic, results have again been based on teacher judgement and assessments.

Pass rates in Shetland for National 5 grades A-C was 88.7 per cent, which is above the Scottish average and a near seven per cent rise from pre-pandemic exams in 2019.

That figure for Higher grades A-C was 80.9 per cent, which was lower than the 87.3 per cent Scottish average and slightly down on the local rate in 2020.

For Advanced Higher grades A-C the Shetland pass rate was 82.3 per cent, compared to the Scottish average of 90.2 per cent. It also was down slightly on 2020.

Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee chair George Smith said: “Our young people have certainly earned their qualifications this year, adapting to new assessment arrangements and continuing to progress with their learning despite the disruption caused by Covid-19.

Education and families committee chairman George Smith.

“I am absolutely delighted that so many young people have achieved such a high standard of results again.

“Central education officers have worked closely alongside school management teams, teaching staff and support staff in schools to plan and execute the 2021 alternative certification model in Shetland and I am confident in the rigorous quality assurance and moderation process which has taken place in our local authority.

“I would like to thank all our staff, parents and pupils who have been part of a real team effort.”

Results for non-graded qualifications in Shetland were as follows:

  • National 4 pass rate was 95 per cent
  • National 3 pass rate was 92 per cent (23 passes)
  • National 2 pass rate was 86 per cent (six passes)
  • Six pupils achieved the Scottish Baccalaureate in Science and Languages.

Certificates for a range of other awards including Skills for Work, vocational pathways courses, are also being issued this summer.

Following consultation, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has created a revised appeals process this year.

The appeals service which is free and available directly to learners for the first time, opens today and learners have until Thursday 12 August to register that they wish to appeal.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart, who is the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ education spokesperson, said that through assessments pupils were forced into “exams in all but name” this year.

It comes after the 2020 results saw the Scottish Government come under fire for a results system which saw many thousands of results initially being downgraded in an attempt to ensure parity with previous years.

“I would like to congratulate all of those getting results today for their hard work,” Wishart said.

“The pandemic has had an enormous impact on schooling so everyone deserves a huge amount of credit for the work they have put in.

“Likewise I want to thank all the teachers and school staff, whose professionalism and dedication has kept our school system running in these difficult circumstances.”

But the MSP added: “Pupils were forced into exams in all but name, sitting as many as 16 assessments in a week, crammed in with little notice.

“The SQA shifted workloads onto teachers and gave them precious little leeway to recognise that some of their students had missed months of education due to repeated stints in isolation or disruption at home.

“The fact that the gap between the richest and the poorest has increased again make a mockery of SNP promises to close the attainment gap. The blame for this sits firmly with the government and its education quangos.”

Meanwhile young people in Shetland can call Skills Development Scotland’s (SDS) helpline for dedicated results support today.

The free helpline offers advice, information and guidance for young people and their parents and carers.

The number to call is 0808 100 8000.

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “The free helpline offers young people an excellent source of advice and guidance and I’d appeal to learners who have questions about their next steps to use this valuable resource.

“Whether it’s practical advice about options, or reassurance following SQA results, the advisers are ready to help.”

Nationally the SQA said key results were:

  • A-C attainment rate for National 5 – 85.8 per cent (2020 – 89.0 per cent)
  • A-C attainment rate at Higher – 87.3 per cent (2020 – 89.3 per cent)
  • A-C attainment rate at Advanced Higher – 90.2 per cent (2020 – 93.1 per cent)
  • Overall entries for National 2 to National 5, Higher, Advanced Higher and Skills for Work courses increased by 8,201 to 660,661.

SQA chief executive and Scotland’s chief examining officer Fiona Robertson said: “This has been a very challenging year for everyone and today is a results day like no other.

“With awarding based on teacher and lecturer judgement this year, learners have known their results since the end of June.”

Following last year’s school results the government announced plans to scrap the SQA in the future and replace it with a new agency.