Record Higher results for Capital pupils

Portobello High School pupil Jack Gargan, 17, with father Tommy. Picture: Lesley Martin
Portobello High School pupil Jack Gargan, 17, with father Tommy. Picture: Lesley Martin
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The number of pupils leaving the city’s schools with a Higher pass has reached a new record, today’s exam results show.

As thousands of nervous youngsters opened envelopes this morning, schools revealed 61 per cent of S6 pupils had gained at least one Higher – up four per cent on last year and 13 per cent on 2009.

At S5 level, 54 per cent of pupils made the grade – a two percentage point improvement on last year and a jump of 12 per cent on the rate recorded five years ago.

Nationally, the Higher pass rate – which is not limited to state school year groups and covers all candidates – stood at just over 77 per cent.

The Edinburgh figures, including results for youngsters sitting the first National exams, have been hailed by city education chiefs.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “I want to congratulate all those who sat exams this year, and thanks must also go to all our teaching staff who have been working extremely hard for the introduction of the new National exams.

“Another key aim is to make sure all school leavers enter a positive destination of employment, training or further education. Initiatives such as the Edinburgh Guarantee are going a long way to making this a reality for many of our 
ex-pupils.”

Amid ongoing concern over pressure created by the introduction of an entirely new exam system, 13,585 awards were made at National 5 level, which has replaced Standard Grade Credit, and there were 8342 National 4 awards.

Although National pass rates in Edinburgh are still being finalised, parents welcomed today’s results as evidence that teachers and pupils have more than risen to the challenge of this year’s overhaul.

Tina Woolnough, Edinburgh representative for the National Parent Forum of Scotland, said: “Any improvement represents hard work by pupils and teachers. While there was definitely pressure on teachers to work within two systems, they seem to have managed. Of the S4s I’ve spoken to, some were anxious but I think many took a really positive approach with their teachers.”

Alan McKenzie, acting general secretary at the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, stressed detailed analysis would have to be carried out to obtain a precise picture of overall achievement.

He described Edinburgh’s Higher pass rate increase as “hefty” and said: “Edinburgh schools are to be commended. For many kids, the number getting at least one Higher is a really important statistic – it’s important for self-esteem and it gives them access to college courses, as well as higher national diplomas.”

‘My teachers have been a great support to me’

Portobello High S6 pupil Jack Gargan sat Higher maths, computing, physics, tech studies and English, and said receiving results at the end of a gruelling year was nerve-wracking and a huge relief.

The 17-year-old – who is Portobello High’s Dux student and plans to study computational physics or computer science at Edinburgh University – paid tribute to his teachers and said they were “absolutely brilliant” despite having to cope with the pressure of bringing in an entirely new exams system.

He said: “They have been a great support for me. They were under quite a bit of pressure because they obviously had to prepare for the new curriculum while also continuing with the current one. They seem to have been coping brilliantly.”

Proud dad Tommy, 51, said he was “delighted” at his son’s success.

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com