Calls for 'achievement day' to take focus off exams

The 'unhealthy and unhelpful fixation' with exams is blamed for overshadowing every other achievement by pupils

Henry Hepburn

Calls for 'achievement day' to take focus off exams

Education leaders in Scotland want to establish a "national achievement day" amid concerns that exam results are still the predominant measure of success in schools.

They have proposed that the day could be held in February when schools would be "celebrating the impact of a wider range of pathways and indicating the broad performance of the education system".

Rather than exam pass rates, the national achievement day would highlight, for example, "positive destinations" figures and data gathered through the Insight benchmarking tool.

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Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) results day in August should be seen as just one "step within the growing availability of data over the year from February, with the emphasis on results helping young people to the next stage of their learner journey, rather than 'performance' of the education system".

The idea is set out in Education Scotland's contribution to a report published by the Scottish government last night – following the release of an incomplete version in January, revealed by Tes Scotland – which includes analysis of exam results data by various national bodies.

Education Scotland also calls for the idea of there being "no wrong path" through education to be shared over "a wider range of social media platforms", and for "greater involvement of employers in recognising the importance of the broader range of achievement, with specific learner examples".

The report advises that Education Scotland is already working with others – including the government, SQA and education directors body ADES – on "how to help move the narrative on from over-focus on [national qualifications] towards the broader continuum".

In its contribution to the report, ADES says: "It is worth highlighting that pass rates are only part of the 'attainment story'. It is possible that an overly strong focus on increasing Higher pass rates could cause unintended consequences at school level that impact negatively on some young people.

"Pass rates can be improved by removing pupils who are on the border line of passing a Higher course. An overly cautious approach driven by a focus on pass rates may lower aspirations and limit the chance for some pupils to sit and potentially pass their Higher."

EIS union general secretary Larry Flanagan said that focusing exclusively on Higher passes was "an unhealthy and unhelpful fixation".

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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