Excellence and achievement in education

Higher passes exceed 150,000 for third year in a row.

The whole country should be proud of the qualifications gained by Scotland’s young people,

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said.

Around 136,000 students across Scotland have received their results for a wide range of SQA qualifications including National 5, Highers and SQA Awards.

Higher passes have exceeded 150,000 for the third year in a row and pass rates are consistently strong. The number of skills-based awards has more than doubled in the past five years, from 24,849 in 2012 to 50,148 this year.

On a visit to Bannerman High School in Glasgow, Mr Swinney said:

“I would like to congratulate our young people, and their teachers, for their hard work and effort. The whole country should rightly be proud of the excellence and achievement in Scottish education demonstrated by these results.

“We expect to see small variations in pass rates year-on-year, which demonstrate the high standards, strength and integrity of our national qualifications. This is of paramount importance.

“The much greater range of qualifications and skills-based awards demonstrates Curriculum for Excellence is successfully meeting the needs of young people and giving them the best chance of success in further learning, life and work. It is the right reform for Scottish education.

“The further steps we have set out to close the attainment gap and raise standards for all will build on these solid foundations.”


Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) attainment statistics (August) 2017 show there were 150,010 Higher passes in 2017. This is the third year in a row the number of Higher passes has exceeded 150,000, despite a fall in the size of the school year-groups involved.

The number of SQA Awards, National Certificates and National Progression Awards increased from 16,863 in 2012 to 41,483 this year. In addition, there were a further 8,665 passes for Skills for Work and Personal Development awards, up from 7,986 in 2012.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has a free helpline which will be open from 8am until 8pm on 8 and 9 August and from 9am until 5pm from 10 to 16 August. The number to call is 0808 100 8000.

As further changes to national qualifications are implemented, the Scottish Government will work closely with the SQA to ensure the continued integrity and strength of our qualifications system. Unit assessments will be removed from National 5 for the 2017-18 academic year, which is expected to affect presentation patterns.


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