Scottish Borders Council

Agenda item

Exam Results 2018/19

Consider report by Interim Service Director Children & Young People (copy attached).


4.1       There had been circulated copies of a report by the Interim Service Director, Children & Young people providing Members with information on progress schools were making in the Broad General Education for P1 to S3 and Senior Phase S4-6 Scottish Qualifications Examinations for session 2018/19.   Quality Improvement Officer, Catherine Thomson, conveyed the key messages from the detailed information provided and contained in tables within the report.  Also included in the report were identified areas for improvement.  An explanation of the SCQF Framework was attached as an appendix.  Ms Thomson explained that in 2018/19 all areas of Literacy and Numeracy in the Broad General Education at P1, P4, P7 and S3, apart from Second Level Numeracy, were above 76% and in particular Listening and Reading were above 86%.  For session 2019/20, all schools would be set new targets in Literacy and Numeracy to ensure that Scottish Borders met the Scottish Government’s stretch aim of 85% for 2020.  It was noted that the Senior Phase SQA exam results did not include the wider achievement awards, which were on the SCQF qualifications framework at the same level, attained by young people during the last session.  The Education Service would give a further update to the Executive Committee on attainment and achievement in March 2020 when all the data would be available. In terms of SQA National Qualification attainment in 2019, 77.9% achieved A-C in National 5, 76.5% achieved A-C in Higher and 82.3% achieved A-C in Advanced Higher.  These were 1.3%, 1.7% and 2% above the A-C pass rates respectively achieved in 2018.  The overall pass awards showed a consistency in trend or a small improvement in each award. 96.1% of S4 achieved a National 5 English award which remained in line with 2018.  83.3% of S4 achieved a SCQF National 5 award in Maths which was a decrease from 2018 but higher than in 2017. This year’s SQCF Higher results demonstrated an extremely positive trend with the percentage of young people gaining an award at Higher increasing to 91%.  Ms Thomson drew attention to other courses being offered at Senior Level in some schools. These included a foundation apprenticeship in Social Services and new courses such as Bee Keeping and Musical Theatre. The report went on to provide detailed information and data tables on closing the Poverty-Related Attainment Gap.  The Pupil Equity Fund had been effectively used in all allocated schools to support targeted interventions in Literacy and Numeracy for identified groups of children and young people. 


4.2       In conclusion Ms Thomson advised that a data analysis of SQA exam results was now underway in preparation for the release of the Scottish Government Insight benchmarking tool.  This would be used by senior officers to analyse each secondary school’s attainment data and to identify success and areas for improvement.  Schools would then do their own detailed analysis. Members welcomed the achievements outlined in the report. In response to a question from Ms Ferahi about how data was recorded and specifically whether a gap year was recorded as a negative destination no matter for what reason it was being taken, Ms Thomson explained that a gap year could be seen as a positive destination but it was sometimes difficult for Skills Development Scotland to obtain the correct information. In terms of the requirement to improve numeracy at certain levels which was identified from the data and whether this was due to difficulty in recruiting Maths teachers, Ms Thomson advised that improving numeracy and the recruitment of Maths teachers was a challenge nationally and this was not a reflection of teaching in the Borders.  The team would be focussing on moderation across schools to bring about improvement.  In response to a further question Ms Thomson confirmed that some of the clusters had shared tracking systems through Primary and Secondary and that last year a system had been put in place to track every year group through primary to provide more robust data.  More work was required to be carried out in this area to inform moderation between Primary and Secondary schools. 



            NOTED the trends and progress that schools were making in the Broad General Education and Senior Phase in terms of attainment and the identified areas for improvement.


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