EDUCATION: Top marks for Argyll and Bute schools

By Aileen MacLennan

Pupils in secondary schools across Argyll and Bute, including Helensburgh’s Hermitage Academy, badge pictured right, are delivering top marks for exam performance according to new figures released by the Council’s Community Services Committee.

The latest Education Performance Data Analysis for 2020 shows that schools in the area achieved excellent results which outperformed national averages.

Figures for Argyll and Bute this year show that:

  •  National 4 results are above the national average by 9.1%
  •  National 5 results are above the national average by 2.5%
  •  Higher results are above the national average by 1.3%
  •  Advanced Higher results are above the national average by 2.6%
  •  All 10 secondary schools maintained their 100% pass rate for National 4, outperforming the national average

The analysis also showed that nine schools were above the 2020 national average for National 5, seven were above the 2020 national average for Higher and eight schools were above the 2020 national average for Advanced Higher.

Following the cancellation of this year’s formal SQA exams due to COVID-19, schools submitted estimate grades on behalf of each young person. In August, the Scottish Government indicated that the SQA would change this approach and revert to candidate awards based solely on the estimates provided by schools and colleges. Any pupil awarded a grade higher than their estimate in the original process maintained their award at the higher level.

The news comes as the latest figures also show that, in 2020, 94% of 16-19 year olds in Argyll and Bute were participating in education, training or employment compared to 92.1% in Scotland as a whole.

The Annual Participation Measure (APM) is published in September each year and used to track the success of Opportunities for All, the Scottish Government’s commitment to offer a place in learning or training to every 16 to 19-year-old in Scotland not already in employment, education or training. The APM is compiled from data provided by local authorities, colleges, the Department of Work and Pensions, SAAS and the Scottish Funding Council.

Argyll and Bute remains above the Scottish average, despite a fall of 0.7% in the number of young people participating last year.

The Council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, pictured left, said:  “As with so many other areas of daily life, in terms of both education and career opportunities, this has been a year like no other for our young people.

“Despite the challenges which the pandemic has brought to our communities, it is extremely gratifying to see how well our schools continue to perform in delivering for pupils in Argyll and Bute. That expertise and support is crucial in helping our young people achieve their aspirations for their future careers.

“Over the last few years the council has made a substantial investment into digital learning opportunities in our schools and this has, without a doubt, helped our young people to achieve success. This includes a range of things such as digital classrooms across partner schools, a dedicated Digital Hub, and an increased use of a number of digital learning platforms.

“However, there is clearly no room for complacency, particularly since it will be some time before we see the full impact of the pandemic on both the education sector and on the wider economy.

“The Scottish Government announced this week that next year’s Higher and Advanced Higher exams will no longer to take place, having already put in place an alternative certification model for  2021 National 5 examinations. Instead a new model will be adopted that is based on the one developed for national five qualifications and make awards on teacher judgement of evidence of learner attainment.

“I want to reassure that pupils and parents that we are fully prepared for this. We are committed to ensuring our young people have every opportunity to succeed, and will not be put at an unfair disadvantage through no fault of their own.

“Our education teams will continue to work closely with our schools to support teachers and our young people in the run-up to next year.”

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