SQA Examination Results in Scottish Schools: 2006/07

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

SQA Examination Results in Scottish Schools: 2006/07 26 September 2007

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 is the latest in a series of annual publications about exam results published by the Scottish Government.

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.

Main findings:

  • Overall attainment in Scottish schools in 2006/07 was broadly similar to the levels attained in previous years.
  • A higher proportion of females than males achieved awards at all levels, by the end of all stages. In S5 and S6, this is partly due to higher staying on rates for females than males.

Changes to National Qualifications: Between the academic years 2005/06 and 2006/07 some changes were made to National Qualifications which may affect attainment figures in 2007 and future years. These are described in section 2.2.

In 2006/07:

  • 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-two 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, twenty-two 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, nineteen 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:

  • Thirty-four per cent of the S4 year group in 2004/05 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 (2005/06), another eleven per cent of the same year group achieved this level and a further two per cent by the end of S6 (2006/07), resulting in a total of forty-seven per cent ( Table 5).
  • By the end of S5, ten per cent of the S4 year group in 2004/05 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).

List of Tables and Charts

Table 1: S4 Roll by year and gender
Table 2: S4 Attainment
Table 3: S5 Attainment
Table 4: S6 Attainment
Chart 1: S4 Attainment
Chart 2: S5 Attainment
Chart 3: S6 Attainment
Table 5: Attainment of the pupils who were in S4 in 2004/05, by the end of each stage
Table 6: S4 Attainment, by education authority
Table 7: S5 Attainment, by education authority
Table 8 S6 Attainment, by education authority
Chart 4: S4 Attainment: Percentage of roll with 5+ awards at SCQF 4 or better


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. More information about the National Statistics standard is available on the Office for National Statistics website www.statistics.gov.uk/about/national_statistics.

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 2007.

School roll figures were obtained from the Scottish Government 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 Changes to National Qualifications

Two changes have recently been made to National Qualifications which may affect the attainment figures published this year.

Skills for work courses - Since 2006/07 "Skills for Work" courses have been widely available in secondary schools.

"Skills for Work" courses are practical courses designed to be an equivalent option to an existing qualification, such as a Standard Grade. The courses have been developed by the Scottish Qualifications Authority ( SQA) to enable and encourage young people in S3 and above to develop important knowledge and skills, useful for both employment and for life. These courses are intended to provide pathways to employment, training or further education. Learning is mainly practical and takes place in schools, colleges and other work-related settings. Courses available during the period covered by this publication are at Access and Intermediate levels.

The courses have not had much impact on this years' figures as many of them are two year courses and so pupils beginning them last year will not finish until summer 2008. Some pupils took pilot courses which began in 2005/06 and these are included in the figures. From next year, "Skills for Work" courses are expected to make a more significant contribution to the attainment figures.

Derived Grades - In 2006/07, the SQA withdrew the "derived grades" element of its appeals process which in certain circumstances, provided an automatic appeal to improve a student's result if there was a case for underperformance. In future these students will be expected to appeal through the normal appeals process.

This change will predominantly affect Standard Grade achievement as the majority of derived grades were for Standard Grades.

This year's figures, which are pre-appeal, show that the percentage of S4 pupils achieving five or more awards at Standard Grade Credit level has fallen by two percentage points. There has been a similar fall at General Level ( Table 2 and Table 2 from the 2005/06 publication). The end of derived grades contributes to this drop.

In previous years the post-appeals attainment figures have generally been only one or two percentage points higher than the pre-appeals figures. This year the difference may increase as the students who would have benefited from derived grades, instead increase the number of appeals.

For more information about derived grades see the "Review of Estimates, Derived Grades and Appeals" on the SQA website.

2.3 Changes to definitions

Between the academic years 2005/06 and 2006/07 a change was made to the way that attainment figures are calculated for students taking exams at centres other than their base school. The 2006/07 figures in this publication were calculated using the new definition whereas earlier figures use an older definition.

Before 2006/07 attainment statistics were based on the presenting centre only, i.e the centre where a student studied for and took the exam. From 2006/07 all awards are credited to the school or college at which a pupil is based. This means that pupils based in publicly funded schools who took courses in Further Education ( FE) colleges or other centres will now be credited with any resulting awards, whereas previously they would not have been. As well as the national totals, this affects the local authority level figures as pupils taking courses at schools other then their base school may cross LA boundaries.

In 2006/07, of 720,000 NQ courses taken by pupils based in publicly funded secondary schools, 3,100 were in FE colleges or other centres. The results for these 3,100 courses would not previously have been recorded in these statistics but they do not significantly affect the national totals.

The new figures are published without a break in the series. It will however be useful to bear in mind that a change has been made when making detailed historic comparisons.

2.4 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.

For Standard Grade, only awards at 1-6 are included. 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.

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.

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 2006/07 is calculated as a percentage of the S4 roll in September 2005. S6 attainment is calculated from the S4 roll in September 2004. The roll figures are available in table 1.

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, examination results for 2006/07 are pre-appeals whereas results for 2004/05 and 2005/06 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.

Special schools providing for pupils with additional support needs are excluded from the data provided below. Those authorities without special schools will, therefore, have proportionately more pupils with additional support needs in mainstream schools and this 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 additional support 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 www.scottishschoolsonline.gov.uk in December. A more detailed analysis of examination results, including trends in post-appeals attainment, will be published around February 2008.

4. Enquiries

Copies of the tables are available at www.scotland.gov.uk.

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

( non-media)

Tom Spencer, Analytical Services Unit - Schools,
1B (S) Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ.

Tel. (0131) 244 4933
E-mail: educ.outcomes.stats@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

( media)

Marion Mackay, Tel. (0131) 244 3070

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