Scottish education: Children who didn't get any Higher A grades still deserve a bright future – Susan Dalgety

It’s hardly a surprise that Edinburgh schools are in Scotland’s top ten best for exam results.

Monday, 14th March 2022, 12:30 pm
Children should be able to look forward to the future regardless of their exam results (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Children should be able to look forward to the future regardless of their exam results (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The city has always had an excellent reputation for education.

I am only surprised that the city came fourth behind East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire and the Western Isles.

Research, published recently by Oxford Summer School and based on data from the SQA, reveals that 47 per cent of Edinburgh pupils achieved National 5 A Grades. Nearly half (48.5 per cent) got Higher A Grades, and 53.2 per cent earned their Advanced Highers.

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This is great news for one half of the city. Most of these students will no doubt go on to university and hopefully a satisfying career.

But what about the other half? The kids who don’t make the grade academically, who just scrape through their exams, or struggle to get even one or two passes, even at the most basic level?

The Scottish Government’s latest report on school leavers paints a rosy picture, with 95 per cent going on to a “positive destination” within three months of leaving school.

Nearly half (45 per cent) went to university, around one quarter into further education and 22 per cent started work.

On the surface this is good news. But dig below the statistics and you will find thousands of city youngsters facing an uncertain future.

The pandemic has badly affected those industries such as hospitality, retail and leisure that are most likely to employ young people starting out.

And now that the global economy is teetering on the edge, prospects can only get worse for those school leavers with few or no qualifications.

In recent years, much of society’s focus has been on increasing the number of young people who go to university, which is no bad thing in itself. Education is never wasted.

But that has taken attention away from those children who want a vocational career, a job in one of the sectors on which we all depend, but which we don’t value, from social care to supermarkets.

So while it’s great news that so many of Edinburgh’s kids are good at exams, let’s not forget that half our children have other skills, and deserve a bright future too.

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