SQA Examination Results in Scottish Schools: 2005/06

National and Authority level information on the cumulative attainmnet of National Qualifications by all pupils in publicly funded secondary schools.

This Statistics Publication Notice presents national and education authority level information on the cumulative attainment of National Qualifications by all pupils in publicly funded secondary schools. It updates Statistics Publication Notice " SQA Examination Results in Scottish Schools: 2004/05" published on 27 September 2005.

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework ( SCQF) is used as the basis for reporting attainment. The SCQF levels are shown below for information.

Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework


Qualifications included


Advanced Higher @ A-C


Higher @ A-C


Standard Grade @ 1-2
Intermediate 2 @ A-C


Standard Grade @ 3-4
Intermediate 1 @ A-C


Standard Grade @ 5-6
Access 3 Cluster

Any attainment below SCQF level 3 is not reported on in this publication.

The main findings are:

  • Overall attainment in Scottish schools in 2005/06 was broadly similar to the levels attained in previous years. The figures are not directly comparable because the 2005/06 figures are before appeals whereas figures for previous years include successful appeals.
  • A higher proportion of females than males achieved awards at all SCQF levels, by the end of all stages. In S5 and S6, this is partly due to higher staying on rates for females than males.
  • In 2005/06:
    • Ninety-one per cent of pupils gained awards in both English and Maths at SCQF level 3 (e.g. Standard Grade Foundation) or better by the end of S4. Thirty-four per cent attained five or more awards at SCQF level 5 (e.g. Standard Grade Credit) or better by the end of S4. ( Table 2)
    • By the end of S5, 21 per cent of the previous year's S4 year group attained three or more awards at SCQF level 6 (Higher) or better. ( Table 3)
    • By the end of S6, 19 per cent of the S4 year group from two years previously attained five or more awards at SCQF level 6 (Higher) or better. Twelve per cent obtained at least one award at SCQF level 7 (Advanced Higher). ( Table 4)
  • Accumulation of awards over time:
    • Of the S4 year group in 2003/04, 35 per cent gained five or more awards at SCQF level 5 (e.g. Standard Grade Credit) or better by the end of that year. By the end of S5 (2004/05), another ten per cent of the same year group achieved this level and a further three per cent by the end of S6 (2005/06), resulting in a total of 48 per cent. ( Table 5)
    • By the end of S5, ten per cent of the S4 year group in 2003/04 achieved five or more awards at SCQF level 6 (Higher) or better. A further nine per cent of this year group gained awards at this level by the end of S6. ( Table 5)


1. National Statistics Statement

This is a National Statistics publication. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.

2. Sources and Definitions

2.1 Sources

Data on National Qualifications were obtained from the Scottish Qualifications Authority ( SQA). They do not take into account confirmed corrections to certification post August 2006.

School roll figures were obtained from the Scottish Executive School Census as at September in the relevant year. Pupils entering or leaving the school after Census date may affect the percentages given for examination attainment. Roll figures include pupils in mainstream classes and in integrated SEN units.

Candidate Stage data (i.e. S4, S5, S6) was obtained, for the majority, from schools' management information systems. Stage was otherwise estimated to within approximately 0.5% chance of error.

2.2 Definitions

National and education authority averages do not include independent or special schools. Education authority averages include education authority secondary schools only, whereas national averages include all publicly funded secondary schools.

The figures represent cumulative attainment by the end of each stage. For example, figures showing attainment by the end of S4 may include the results of Standard Grade or Intermediate courses completed by the same pupils when they were in S3.

From August 2004, candidates were able to achieve a grade D in their national courses. This replaces the 'Compensatory Award' which existed previously, whereby pupils who narrowly failed to pass the external assessment of a national course, but passed all the relevant national units, were awarded a 'compensatory' A at the level of course below the one undertaken. However, whilst a recognition of candidate achievement, the D grade is not a pass award.

These figures only include Standard Grade awards at 1-6. Candidates are awarded a grade dependant on their performance against set criteria and there are 3 levels of award - credit (grades 1&2), general (grades 3&4) and foundation (grades 5&6). A '7' is awarded where a candidate completes/ passes the course but not at a level of performance required to gain one of the other 6 grades.

In order to record the attainment of an entire year group, attainment in S5 and S6 is reported as a percentage of the relevant S4 roll. For example, attainment in S5 in 2005/06 is calculated as a percentage of the S4 roll in September 2004/05. S6 attainment is calculated from the S4 roll in September 2003/04. The roll figures are available in a separate table ( table 1).

Awards are credited to the presenting centre only. Exam results may be affected by pupils who are presented for examinations at Further Education colleges.

The S5 staying on rates are calculated as the estimated January roll in S5 divided by the previous year's S4 roll as at September. The estimated January roll in S5 is calculated by subtracting the number of first term leavers in S5 from the September S5 roll. The S6 staying on rate is calculated by dividing the September S6 roll by the S4 roll two years before.

3. Notes

Examination results are an important indicator of performance, but not one that gives the full picture of education. These results should be considered alongside other indicators of pupils' progress, such as the quality of the learning experience and the ethos of the school.

Sometimes differences in the patterns of results from year to year may be due to fluctuations in pupils' abilities in different year groups rather than to any underlying trend in school performance. Furthermore, as already stated, examination results for 2005/06 are pre-appeals whereas results for 2003/04 and 2004/05 are post-appeals. In past years, the post-appeal figures are generally no more than one percentage point higher than the equivalent pre-appeal figure.

Some schools make provision for pupils with special educational needs either within their mainstream roll or in integrated SEN units. These pupils can have a significant effect on attainment patterns. However, the overall effect is heavily dependent on the number of pupils and the nature of their needs.

Staying on rates affect the potential of a year group to gain awards in S5 and S6; therefore, a low staying on rate may be part of the explanation for a low percentage of awards at these stages.

School level information will be published on in December. A more detailed analysis of examination results, including trends in post-appeals attainment, will be published around February 2007.

4. Enquiries

Copies of the tables are available on the Scottish Executive's website at

Public enquiries about the information contained in this Statistics Publication Notice should be addressed to:

( non-media) Sara Conroy, Assistant Statistician, The Scottish Executive Education Department, Education Statistics, Area 1-B South, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ.
Tel. (0131) 244 4933 or e-mail:

( media) Marion MacKay Tel. (0131) 244 3070.

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