[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2006, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
'Blip' in Higher Grade pass rate
Student's delight
A student's delight as she opens the envelope containing results
Increasing pass rates for Higher Grade exams have stalled for the first time since 2002, according to this year's Scottish course results.

Scottish Qualifications Authority figures published on Tuesday showed that 70.8% of Highers were passed in 2006, compared with 71.2% last year.

However, the pass rate for the Standard Grade exam rose from 97.3% to 97.7%.

The SQA said the results showed ongoing strong achievement and blamed pass rate falls on "annual fluctuations".

Pass rates for Higher English, the exam level's most popular subject, dropped two percentage points to 64.1% this year.

However, maths, the second most popular subject, was up nearly one point to 68.6%.

There are always fluctuations with exam results and it is important not to get this out of proportion
Education Minister Peter Peacock

There were mixed results in Scotland's other exams, with pass rates rising and falling respectively for the new Intermediate 1 and 2 tests, which are designed to be half way between Standard Grades and Highers.

Education Minister Peter Peacock congratulated students and defended the Higher exams results.

He said: "We need to have rigorously tested qualifications that maintain our high educational standards.

"There are always fluctuations with exam results and it is important not to get this out of proportion - the SQA advise these results are well within the bounds of what should be expected each year."

A baby boom around 1990 meant more youngsters sat the exams than ever before, with 150,050 candidates compared with 142,799 in 2005.

'Robust system'

SQA chief executive Anton Colella said this meant more students were gaining more qualifications.

"This year's results show continuing strong achievement in a stable system that is maintaining highly regarded standards year on year," he said.

"We are also seeing all the different levels of qualifications being used well - from Access to Advanced Higher."

Scottish National Party MSP Fiona Hyslop said pupils should be congratulated for their efforts and their achievements.

It is essential that people call the helpline as quickly as possible, as colleges and universities make their final selection for courses once the results are out
Christina Allon
Careers Scotland Director

She added: "We need a robust and rigorous exam system to help power Scotland's worldwide reputation for high quality education."

While also congratulating pupils, Scottish Conservative deputy leader Murdo Fraser said: "It is vital that we have an education system in Scotland which allows every student to make the most of their talents, whether they are academic or vocational.

"That is why Scottish Conservatives have been leading the calls for more vocational training to be introduced in schools in collaboration with our further education colleges."

Careers Scotland has opened its Exam Results Helpline offering advice to students, whatever their grades are.

Director Christina Allon said: "On Exam Results day, students and their families should remain calm and make the most of the impartial advice that is available through the helpline.

"It is essential that people call the helpline as quickly as possible, as colleges and universities make their final selection for courses once the results are out."

The helpline number is 0808 100 8000.

Do you have video footage of anyone opening their exam results on Tuesday? Send it to newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Watch one pupil receive his Standard Grade results



SEE ALSO
Exams agency probes web cheating
11 Jun 06 |  Scotland
Pupils to sit first online exams
02 May 06 |  Scotland
Council fast-tracks exam pupils
27 Jan 06 |  Scotland
Mixed results on exam pass rate
27 Sep 05 |  Scotland
Age gap as pupils sit exams early
09 Aug 05 |  Scotland
Proposal to lower age for exams
28 May 04 |  Scotland

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific