Scots Exam Passes At Record High

Pupils across the country received their exam results today, although thousands of them had already been notified of their grades a day early by mistake.

An error meant that almost 29,000 received theirs via text message yesterday.

The pass rate for Highers was 75.2%, up 0.5% on last year, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) said.

The Standard Grade pass rate remained at 98.5% and the Advanced Higher rate was 79.3%, up 1.8% on last year.

Slightly fewer pupils sat exams this year, down 101 from 160,745 to 159,744.

Results were received by post, text message and e-mail, with almost 36,000 pupils choosing to get their results electronically.

All 29,863 pupils who chose to receive their results by text message were sent them yesterday in error. The SQA said it was making inquiries with the external contractor which sends out the texts on its behalf.

Education Secretary Michael Russell said, "I would like to congratulate Scottish pupils for their outstanding achievements in this year's exams. The increased attainment levels shows that all the hours of hard work and study students put in can really pay off.

Scotland's young people clearly have high ambitions and are achieving great success. We want to build on this and deliver further improvements because better skills means better jobs and better jobs mean a wealthier Scotland for all.''

Dr Janet Brown, SQA chief executive and Scotland's chief examining officer, said, "This year we continue to witness modest but important increases in the attainment levels of our young people. For me, this reflects in no small measure the results of the changes teachers have been making to learning and teaching approaches. These improvements come as part of the ongoing Curriculum for Excellence development process.''

Pass rates across all qualifications were relatively stable.

The proportion of pupils receiving Standard Grade credit-level passes rose to 46.7%, general-level passes stayed at 40.3% and foundation-level passes dipped slightly to 11.5%.

Passes at Intermediate 1 level rose 3.2%, Intermediate 2 rose 1.3%, Access 2 dropped 0.3% and Access 3 rose 1.1%.

More pupils did the new Scottish Baccalaureate qualifications, now running for the second year. Of these, science and languages attracted 174 entries. Last year's total was 138.

The qualification comprises Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications as well as an interdisciplinary project which is marked at Advanced Higher level. It is designed to encourage more young people to study science and languages in the later stages of secondary school.

The overall Baccalaureate pass rate was 80.5%, representing 68 passes and 72 passes with distinction.

For the first time pupils had to do a mandatory paper on Scottish history as part of their history Higher, which had questions on the wars of independence 1286-1328; the Treaty of Union 1689-1740; and migration and empire 1830-1939.

Robin Parker, president of NUS Scotland, 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.

With places so scarce, and few opportunities available through clearing, we must make sure that fair access to education is not compromised. That's why NUS Scotland campaigned for the Government to maintain places and why we were delighted that they agreed to do so. Now we will work hard to make sure these university places are genuinely open in a fair way, based on ability and potential, to people from all backgrounds.

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.''