Here are the grades pupils in Edinburgh and Lothian were awarded after second year of Covid disruption

Pupils in Edinburgh have been told they should be proud of themselves as Higher and National 5 grades were published showing improvements in several areas compared to the past two years despite the disruption to learning caused by Covid.

Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 4:55 am

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For a second year running there were no formal exams due to he pandemic, with grades based instead on assessments set and marked by teachers.

But the city council said the percentage of A grades awarded in both National 5s and Highers was up on both 2019 and 2020.

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There were no formal exams for the second year running because of Covid

Education convener Ian Perry said: “This year was once again an extremely difficult one for both pupils preparing for their assessments and our dedicated teaching staff who put in a tremendous amount of effort in co-ordinating them.

“The impact of the pandemic on learning and teaching has been a huge challenge for everyone so it’s really encouraging to see improvements in several measures compared to previous years.

“Praise must go to all our teachers and staff who worked extremely hard in pulling together all the assessments for the SQA. Our young people should be very proud of themselves in what has been an unprecedented year of change.”

Vice-convener Alison Dickie added: “Once again our young people have shown great resilience in the most trying of circumstances and they’re to be congratulated for all their hard work as they take their next steps to achieving their personal goals.”

A total of 43,875 resulted awards were certificated for 8,189 candidates in the Capital, including special schools, adults and mainstream secondary pupils, covering over 88 subjects ranging from Accounting to Urdu.

The percentage of A grades awarded to pupils in both National 5s and Highers increased compared to 2020 and 2019. This year 46.9 per cent of National 5 presentations were awarded an A grade compared to 43 per cent in 2020 and 36.9 per cent in 2019. And 48.3 per cent of Highers presentations resulted in an A grade compared to 41.4 per cent in 2020 and 31.6 per cent in 2019.

The National 5s pass rate at grades A-C was 81.7 per cent this year – up 3.2 percentage points from 2019, but down from last year’s 88.8 per cent, while the Highers pass rate at the same grades was 85 per cent – up eight percentage points from 2019, but down from 89.7 per cent last year.

By the end of S5, 65 per cent of the S4 roll achieved one or more Higher passes (A-C) – a one percentage point improvement on last year, and six percentage point improvement from 2019.

By the end of S6, 70 per cent of the S4 roll achieved one or more Higher passes (A-C) – one percentage point better than last year and four percentage points better than 2019.

And by the end of S6, 46 per cent achieved three or more Higher passes (A-C) – one percentage point up on last year and eight percentage points up from 2019.

Jake Douglas, 18, left Forrester High School with three As in his Advanced Highers of Maths, Mechanics of Maths and Physics and starts at Heriot Watt University studying Maths and Physics next month. His achievement is all the more notable as his courses were completed remotely as he was studying them at different schools and due to Covid restrictions he was often unable to attend the schools so had to do his studies with teachers through Microsoft Teams and on e-mail.

He said: “It was really difficult having to study on my own at home but it did work in my favour as it meant I could go at my own pace. I’m delighted I’ve been able to reap the rewards and it’s nice to know that all my hard work has paid off.”

Across Scotland, results were generally lower than last year but showed a sharp rise since 2019.

In publishing their results, Midlothian and East Lothian councils compared this year's figures with a five-year average, given the different system for awarding grades in the past two years.

Midlothian said the statistics showed significant improvements in attainment levels across the county.

This year 38.9 per cent of S4 pupils gained five or more National 5s at levels A-C, a rise of 1.4 per cent compared with the five-year average for 2017-21 of 37.5 per cent.

A total of 15.2 per cent of S5 pupils gained five or more Highers at passes A-C compared with the five-year average of 14.1 per cent while the percentage of S5 pupils gaining three or more Highers was up five percentage points to 37.1 per cent compared with the five-year average of 32.1 per cent.

Meanwhile S6 attainment levels also improved with 22 per cent getting at least one Advanced Higher pass in 2021 compared with the five-year average of 18.3 per cent.

When Grace Aaron, an S5 pupil at Lasswade High School, learned she had five straight As in her Highers she said she was “shocked but so happy and so relieved that everything I’d worked so hard for I’d achieved.”

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Grace, 17, who achieved the top grades in Maths, English, Moderns Studies, History and religious studies, said the last two years, disrupted by Covid, had been stressful.

She said: “It’s definitely been stressful but I’ve made sure I had a timetable to get all my work done so I was not stressing at the last minute about assessments.”

She is looking forward to S6 when she will study for two more Highers in sociology and psychology along with an Advanced Higher in Modern Studies and a Level 6 Leadership Course.

In East Lothian, the number of young people achieving A-C grades across National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses was at its highest level in five years. Increases were also recorded in English and Maths, an area of focus, across all Higher accreditation levels, and in English at National 5.

A total of 12,680 resulted awards were certificated for 2,533 candidates across the county in 2021, an increase from last year’s 11,239 awards to 2,349 candidates.

Overall, the percentage achieving A-C awards in SQA courses was up four per cent in 2021 at 86 per cent compared to a five-year average of 82 per cent for the years 2015-19.

A total of 82 per cent of candidates presented for National 5 qualifications achieved A-C grades, an increase of four per cent on the five-year average of 78 per cent.

There was an increase in the number of S4 presentations at National 5; the number of S4 pupils achieving one or more awards at National 5 or better was up four per cent on the five-year average at 80.3 per cent compared to 76.7 per cent.

The number of S4 pupils achieving three or more awards at National 5 improved by 12 per cent to 64 per cent with those achieving five or more awards also 12 per cent above the five-year average at 49 per cent.

Overall, the pass rate for National 5 English was five per cent above the five-year average at 92 per cent while Maths was in line with the five-year average at 64 per cent.

For Highers, 85 per cent of all candidates achieved A-C grades, eight per cent better than the five-year average.

Overall, the pass rate across all year groups for Higher English increased by seven per cent from the five-year average of 80 per cent to 87 per cent in 2021, while the pass rate for Maths also increased from 74 per cent to 78 per cent.

By the end of S5, there were increases across all three Higher measures for the original S4 cohort, with 62 per cent achieving one or more Highers (up five per cent on the five-year average), 41 per cent achieving three or more Highers (also up five per cent) and 19 per cent achieved five or more Highers (up two per cent).

By the end of S6, increases also showed across the three Higher measures: 66 per cent of pupils achieved one or more Highers (up four per cent on the five-year average), 54 per cent achieved three or more Highers (up nine per cent) and 42 per cent achieved five or more Highers (up 10 per cent).

The number of S6 pupils presented for Advanced Highers in East Lothian increased 11 per cent on the five-year average, rising from 41 per cent to 52 per cent, and pass rates were up eight percentage points from 79 to 87 per cent.

The percentage of the original S4 cohort achieving one or more Advanced Highers by the end of S6 also improved by nine percentage points from 22 to 31 per cent.

West Lothian Council said early indications showed results across the area’s 11 secondary schools had improved across a number of key indicators, meaning a ninth successive year of improvement for pupils. But officials were still working on the data.

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