This year, for the first time since 2019 students have sat traditional exams to confirm their achievements in learning. In 2020 exams were cancelled due to the pandemic and grades were based on teacher assessment. In 2021 there were school based tests but they were not the same as a national exam programme.

Today’s results show an increase on the 2019 figure in numbers of students passing Nat 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers. It is also great to see that the number of skills-based qualifications, awards and certificates has increased to 64,240 – almost the highest ever amount. This reflects a huge amount of work on the part of schools, colleges and students.

Tackling the poverty-related attainment gap

It is important to note that the work being done by the Scottish Government to reduce the poverty-related attainment gap continues to have a positive effect on the results from the least and most deprived areas in Scotland, compared to the last exams in 2019.

This year the results show that the attainment gap for Nat 5 is 14.6% – down from 17.1% in 2019; The gap for Higher is 15% – down from 16.9 % in 2019; and for Advanced Higher the gap is 13.2% – down from 13.6 percentage points in 2019.

There is clearly still work to do to end the gap and the Scottish Government is committed to achieving that – not just in terms of education funding but via other expenditure including the Scottish Child Payment and other essential, ongoing commitments. The pandemic does not make this task any easier to achieve. So today’s results are all the more welcome because of the unprecedented times in which they have been achieved.

The appeals process

For students – and teachers – who feel their results do not reflect their efforts or abilities, there is a FREE, direct appeals process Visit the SQA website for further information. I understand that appeals will be considered on the basis of a student’s best performance whether that is prelims, course assessments or final exam.

The decision by the @SQA to look at Grade Boundaries – as they do every year – and to recognise the difficulties students, teachers and head teachers have faced over the last 3 academic years, has lead some people to suggest this means a lowering in standards. But if merit is paramount, a level playing field is not a given. Grade boundaries are a means of delivering a more fair reflection of the amount of effort required to achieve a given grade. The SQA has applied them this year to reflect the fact that students have not faced traditional exams for 3 years and have faced other unprecedented challenges in that time.

I would urge all students not to feel in any way that your results are diminished because of this year’s grade boundary setting, You know how hard you worked and how much you have learned. As in every year, teachers know how hard won these results are.

University and business leaders are keen to assure you that  you are perfectly capable of pursuing the next steps and they are keen to meet you! (See Message to university applicants ahead of results day — Universities Scotland ( and An Open Letter to Young People from Scottish business leaders — Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) )

There are many challenges facing education, but this year’s results are a cause for celebration following unprecedented challenges faced by schools and students over the last 3 years.

Congratulations to all who have achieved what they wanted and hoped for, and to those who did not, please do use the appeal system and also visit Skills Development Scotland for advice and support in finding the best next steps for you.

#ExamResults #SkillsDevelopmentScotland #TeachersRock #Onwardsandupwards