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HIGHERS LOWER; PUPILS HAVE PLENTY TO CELEBRATE BUT SWINNEY FACES HOMEWORK 'Gold standard' qualification passes dip for 4th successive year.

Byline: VIVIENNE AITKEN Education Editor

HIGHER results in Scotland have dipped for the fourth year in a row.

Figures released by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) yesterday show 74.8 per cent of Highers were passed at grades A to C - down by two percentage points on last year.

It follows a consistent drop since the new Highers were introduced in 2015.

This year, there was improved performance in just 15 out of 46 subjects sat at Higher level.

Advanced Highers also saw a drop, with passes down by 1.1 percentage points.

In National 5 exams, there was a 0.7 percentage point improvement year on year - but the 78.2 per cent pass rate is 2.9 percentage points lower than when the exams were introduced in 2014.

Education Secretary John Swinney said: "These are a strong set of results which show a degree of yearon-year variation expected in a high-performing education system with credible assessment."

He also highlighted that the number of skills-based qualifications had more than doubled since 2012.

But opposition parties said the downward trend had become his legacy.

Scottish Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: "John Swinney has made a great deal in recent years about the Higher being the 'gold standard' of Scottish education. That claim now looks very hollow given further drops in pass rates.

"The whole structure of the Curriculum for Excellence has been brought into question by these results."

Scottish Labour's education spokesman Iain Gray called on Swinney to urgently address "years of sustained cuts to schools, thousands of fewer teachers and the narrowing of the curriculum".

He added: "It is long past the time he took his failings seriously and tells pupils, parents and teachers what he intends to do to reverse this trend, which is becoming John Swinney's legacy."

SQA chief executive Fiona Robertson defended the results. She said the pass rate remained high overall and added it was important to "maintain consistency in qualifications standards".

CAPTION(S):

MOMENT OF TRUTH Pupils get results at Govan High in Glasgow

LEAPING FOR JOY Euan Gilmour, Taylor Philips and Calum Storrie of Barrhead High in Renfrewshire. Picture: Mark F Gibson

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Title Annotation:News; Teasers
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 7, 2019
Words:360
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