There are 135,000 people waiting on tenterhooks this morning for their Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) exam results, with 59,000 signed up to find out by email or text at 8am. We’ll be live blogging over the coming hours with reaction, analysis and advice.
Some key stats from yesterday:
634,331 Overall course entries for national qualifications, down from 657,528 in 2017
77.4% A-C attainment rate for National 5, down 2.1 percentage points on 2017
76.8% A-C attainment rate for Higher, down marginally from 2017 (77.0%) and 2016 (77.2%)
106,033 Entries at National 4, down from 116,032 in 2017 and 130,876 in 2015
281,785 Entries at National 5, down from 293,220 in 2017.
191,951 Entries at Higher, down from 194,813 in 2017.
24,331 Entries at Advanced Higher, up from 23,795 since 2016, the first year of the new Advanced Higher.
155 Entries for the Scottish Baccalaureate
12,474 National Progression Awards achieved this year, up from 11,082 in 2017, National Certificates have dipped from 6,662 to 6,201 this year
8,145 National 5 French entries, down from 9,078 in 2017.
36,185 Higher English entries, which bucked the trend of falling uptake across most subjects at this level (up from 35,716 in 2017).
Stats the way to do it
There are now oodles of new statistics for 2018 about the uptake and pass rates of qualifications, on the SQA website – to dive into those, click here.
Exam results day – just the start of your future
Take care, everyone, and good luck with your next steps, wherever they take you.
Congrats to everyone who recieved their #SQAResults today ✉️!— See Me (@seemescotland) August 7, 2018
No matter what the outcome, remember that exams are just the start of your future - not the end! #SQAExamResults #ExamResults pic.twitter.com/OjFarKl4k2
VIDEO: Key SQA exam results day stats in under a minute
Alternatives to university – a handful of them, anyway
The events officer, the lawyer, the games designer, the sports commentator. No, not a bad, shaggy dog joke – another selection from the #NoWrongPath campaign to show that university is not the only way ahead after you get your exam results.
Good luck to those getting results today! Here’s our Events Officer's CV >— National Library of Scotland (@natlibscot) August 7, 2018
Installing cat’s eyes
Events manager (publishing house)
Events officer (here)#Nowrongpath #Examresults
I still remember the day I got a D & 2E’s for my A-Levels - since then I’ve done three degrees & had 5 careers - Best of Luck today 👌 but remember you have one life live it to the full #NoWrongPath #examresults2018 #SQAresults pic.twitter.com/OfONCH9LLY— Aamer Anwar🎗 (@AamerAnwar) August 7, 2018
2010: Told by my HT to study "something more important" than games.— Andrew Reid (@AJReid93) August 7, 2018
2018: Finished my Ph.D. and will be teaching on Game Design & Production @AbertayUni next month.
Whatever you choose to do with your results, don't let anyone decide for you what to do next.#NoWrongPath
Good luck to everyone with exam results today. There is absolutely #NoWrongPath just scenic detours :) Take time to enjoy life and discover what makes you tick. #CamberMedia #FindYourSpark pic.twitter.com/hVkhuE5k8t— Camber.Media (@camberdotmedia) August 7, 2018
The wrong-sized letterbox
There are always a few students who don't get their exam results as quickly as everyone else. These days, that usually applies to those who've signed up to get their results digitally – maybe they haven't provided the right mobile number, or they haven't checked their email's spam folder.
However, someone who was relying on the more traditional method of delivery today has also had problems... Lynne, we hope those results came in the end!
Asylum seeker posts exceptional exam results despite threat of deportation
Another uplifting story from Scottish exam results day: the asylum seeker who, despite the threat of deportation, has posted outstanding results in his National 5s.
Tell today's young students about your alternative to university
The #NoWrongPath online campaign has been a big success today, following on from its initial launch in 2017.
It seeks to highlight routes other than university that young people can follow after their exams, even if they didn’t get the results they were hoping for.
Run by Developing the Young Workforce Glasgow, it asks people to post a photograph on social media today using the hashtag #NoWrongPath and tagging @DYWglasgow – hold a sign with your name, what you did after leaving school and what you are doing now.
Last year celebrities such as singer-songwriter KT Tunstall (see below) and comedian Fred MacAulay were among those taking part.
'There's more to results day than Highers'
An important message on a day when many of the qualifications on offer to Scotland's pupils and students are forgotten.
I've had the privilege to teach many Access students over the last 4 years who either chose not to go on to uni straight away or for whom it wasn't feasible at the time. Access programmes will be there for you in the future if/when you choose uni is right for you #SQAresultsday— Dr Hannah Gilman 🌈 (@HannahGilman1) August 7, 2018
Young skier shines in exams after recovering from horrific accident
An inspiring story, this.
Ross Nesbitt, a 16-year-old pupil at Williamwood High School in East Renfrewsire, has defied the odds this year to recover from a horrific skiing accident and excel in his exams.
The talented skier was left in a coma for nearly four weeks after suffering a horrific accident in December 2016 while training in Austria. Doctors predicted a 1 per cent chance of a full recovery. But Ross has bounced back to gain seven As and one B in his National 5 exams, while also returning to competitive skiing.
Ross said: "After my accident, I had to learn how to do basic tasks again, such as walking and talking, but when I did eventually return to school they were really helpful. I initially just went back for shorter days and my teachers helped me catch up on work I’d missed – so when I went back full-time I was prepared.
"When the exams came round I felt ready for them but I really did not expect to get the results I have – but I’m really pleased."
Celebrating the achievements of Scotland's care-experienced young people
There's been an important event going on in Glasgow this afternoon, using exam results day to celebrate the achievements of young people who have experience of being in care.
We’re at the @sqanews exam results celebration event in Glasgow, a space lovingly created by a #proudcorporateparent as a way to rally around Scotland’s Care Experienced people, celebrating their achievements with love, pride & joy, as we should, today and every day. #SQAresults pic.twitter.com/PQgioEkRhW— Who Cares? Scotland (@whocaresscot) August 7, 2018
“I never thought I’d get to this stage. I’m now torn between doing my Masters and finding somewhere to live...I’ve learned to not be afraid of who I am, my story, my scars...don’t give up.” - Our Jayde speaking powerfully at the @sqanews exam result celebration event. #SQAresults pic.twitter.com/HVG4Oyjwyk— Who Cares? Scotland (@whocaresscot) August 7, 2018
"I didn't give up, I KNEW I deserved an education" - Jayde from @whocaresscot speaking with such power at #SQAresults events . What a powerful young Scottish woman leader. #YOYP2018 pic.twitter.com/muQ30hKBqu— John Loughton (@JohnLoughton) August 7, 2018
Concerns raised about slight decline in Higher pass rate
Labour and the Greens have raised concerns about the decline in Higher pass rates.
In 2016 the new version of the Higher became the only option at that level – after a year of overlapping with the old Higher – and the A-C pass rate was 77.2 per cent. Since then it has decreased to 77 per cent in 2017, and to 76.8 per cent in the 2018 qualifications data released today.
Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: "The real concern is that these falls in attainment are now clear trends over a number of years. It would appear that years of cuts to school budgets and teacher numbers, along with the narrowing of the curriculum and reduced course choice are now having an impact on exam results."
The Greens' education spokesman, Ross Greer, said that teachers are "experiencing a workload and morale crisis and the government is more interested in unwanted and unhelpful governance reforms than solving these problems by giving staff and pupils the resources they need".
'Check up on your pals'
Really important advice on what can be a fraught day.
'Urgent' need to assess impact of longer exams
The general secretary of Scotland's biggest teaching union has said there is an "urgent" review to examine the impact of longer exams at National 5, which were introduced in 2017-18 after unit assessments were scrapped.
Larry Flanagan welcomed the extension of Grade D at National 5, which "has has helped reduce the 'belt and braces' approach of pupils being entered for both National 5 and National 4".
But he added: "Further investigation is required to assess the impact of the extended exam at National 5, a concern raised by EIS members. This is urgent as this session will see the removal of units at Higher level, also.”
Scottish Qualifications Authority data released today showed a drop in A-C attainment of 2.1 percentage points, although chief executive Janet Brown said feedback suggested that longer exams were not a factor.
Education secretary John Swinney announced in 2016 that unit assessments would be removed, in response to teaching union concerns about the workload they created, but concerns have been raised that this has led to longer and new exams.
Mr Flanagan added: "Scotland’s teachers have continued to go the extra mile to provide support and encouragement to their pupils, whilst dealing with ongoing concerns of excessive workload and deteriorating salary values."
“Overall, however, this year's results show that both Scotland’s pupils and educational establishments continue to perform well, despite the many challenges affecting education and teachers today.”
VIDEO: 'There's always something that we can do' - one head's message to disappointed students
'Good news on university acceptances - but more needs to be done for disadvantaged students'
The NUS Scotland students' union has highlighted figures from the Ucas admissions service showing that 29,830 students from Scotland have had their university applications confirmed today, as exam results go out across the country. It added that this is a 4 per cent increase in acceptances, despite an overall fall in the population of 18-year-olds.
But NUS Scotland president Liam McCabe added: "While it is encouraging to see a modest rise in the proportion of Ucas acceptances for those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, we can’t lose sight of the fact there is much more to do to ensure more students from the poorest areas make it into higher education."
'Your mam would never have posted your results in the newsagent's window'
Lots of positive reaction to this Twitter thread by the University of Strathclyde's Amanda Corrigan, who says now is not a time for boasting, at least not publicly.
Thread:— Amanda Corrigan (@ajcorrigan) August 6, 2018
SQA results are pending:
If your child gets straight A's congratulate them personally, don't boast on social media (your mam would NEVER have posted your results in the newsagent's window back in the day!).
'There are many routes to success'
As student digest their results, now might be a good time to read this important advice again.
Politicians react to exam results data
We have some political reaction to the exam results data released this morning. The Scottish Conservatives say that "SNP complacency on education has been exposed after a fall in exam pass rates across several key areas".
They point to “major issues” at National 4 and 5, with the National 5 data showing the A-C pass rate dropping by just over two percentage points. Education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: "There’s no escaping the fact that, for a government that claims its priority is education, these are disappointing statistics."
The Scottish government prefers to focus on the number of Higher passes remaining almost unchanged over the past year, despite a fall of more than 2.4 per cent in the S5-6 school roll. It also points to the growing numbers taking Advanced Highers.
Education secretary John Swinney said: “It is important to remember that we will always see slight variations in pass rates and the results show that we have a robust, credible assessment system in place."
'No wrong path' on exam results day
The #NoWrongPath hashtag has taken off on Twitter, reminding students that they can have a bright future even if they didn't get the results they hoped for. Here's a selection of those upbeat tweets.
in love with the #NoWrongPath trend. If you didn't get the grades you hoped for, it inst the end of the world, it doesn't mean you're not going to get that dream job. The grades don't show your personality. It's how you look at things from another angle that counts :) pic.twitter.com/V3zIvjRKdA— Victoria Lamb (@VicLamb90) August 7, 2018
Best of luck to all youngsters getting results today whether it was what you wanted or disappointing you still went out there and did it. Well done!— Ali Mitchell (@AliMitch) August 7, 2018
I left school at 16 with 1 Higher. I am now the HR/Payroll manager with 182 employees to look after #nowrongpath
4 years ago I didn’t meet the required grades for either of my uni offers. I resat my final year, got into my first choice uni, got a 2:1 and a job before I graduated. However you’re feeling now it’s really not the end of the world #NoWrongPath— Lucy (@tillylucy95) August 7, 2018
Rockers compete for attention on results day
Council press officers get an eclectic range of tasks thrown at them. Today, Stirling Council's comms people are simultaneously sharing news about its schools' exams success and issuing warnings about road closures for the farewell gig by Celtic rockers Runrig later this month. Did they ever work out who got to Loch Lomond first?
Top exam results leave dad to go solo in business
There have been some lovely reactions to the exam results on Twitter. How about this one from a builder whose son's great results have put paid to any thoughts that they might go into business together...
Independent schools react to SQA results
The Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) has highlighted that 68 per cent of pupils studying foreign languages at its 74 member schools have achieved a grade A at Higher.
Scotland’s independent schools saw an improvement on 2017 results across the board, achieving 96 per cent A-C passes at National 5, 95 per cent at Higher and 93 per cent at Advanced Higher.
SCIS director John Edward said: "I am thrilled to see Scotland’s independent schools achieve such outstanding results that have topped last year’s yet again."
Education secretary tweets
Deputy first minister and education secretary John Swinney has tweeted words of congratulations and support for those who received their desired grades, and for those who did not.
As #SQAresults arrive, well done to all learners, teachers & lecturers. Pleased to see Higher passes stable despite fall in school roll plus skill-based qualifications and Advanced Highers continuing to grow. All good wishes on your next steps. Helpline advice on 0808 100 8000.— John Swinney (@JohnSwinney) August 7, 2018
Just published - some SQA data to pore over
SQA releases data on exams and qualifications
SQA has just released screeds of data about the uptake and pass rates of qualifications at all levels. Here are a few initial observations:
- The pass rate has dropped at National 5 – the qualification where most subjects had longer exams from 2017-18 – to 77.4 per cent from 79.5 per cent after barely shifting in previous years.
- There has been another big drop in the number of students taking National 4 courses – a programme that has struggled to establish itself amid concerns about its lack of an external exam. The 106,033 entries at National 4 marks a steep fall since the 130,876 entries in 2015.
- The A-C pass rate at Higher has dipped slightly. In the third year since only a new version of Higher was available, the A-C pass rate is 76.8 per cent, down from 77.0 per cent in 2017 and 77.2 per cent in 2016.
First minister tweets
First minister Nicola Sturgeon has tweeted some words of encouragement for those students receiving their results today.
Wishing the best of luck to everyone waiting on exam results today. If you need any advice, the @skillsdevscot helpline will connect you to an expert careers adviser to talk through your options. And remember, whatever your results there’s a bright future for you! #nowrongpath https://t.co/ksZgLo8eJN— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) August 7, 2018
8am is finally here
Good luck, everyone.
Help on the end of the phone
A few minutes until thousands of students get their results, so here's a timely reminder about the help that's out there.
Waiting on that envelope
Check your spam
Less than an hour until many students are due to receive their results by text or email - 59,000, or 44 per cent of the 135,000 candidates have signed up to the MySQA service. But what if you don't get your results? SQA tells us there's often a very simple solution: check your spam folder...
Oh, and just a reminder that this year's candidates can't sign up to MySQA today. If you haven't done so already, it's a case of a good old-fashioned wait for the postie.
"No wrong path"
There's already plenty of advice on social media as students prepare to get their exam results from 8am, and this tweet sums up the message from many that, whatever's in that envelope/text/email, it doesn't have to define the rest of your life.
Education secretary visits helpline staff
Yesterday education secretary John Swinney visited the expert helpers who will be at the end of the Skills Development Scotland helpline today. The number is 0808 100 8000.
Earlier today, Deputy First Minister @JohnSwinney visited the advisers at the Exam Results Helpline, who were busy preparing for the phones opening at 8am. If you have any #resultsday questions? Call them on 0808 100 8000 #examresultshelp #nowrongpath pic.twitter.com/ctqUMD5LBy— Skills Development Scotland (@skillsdevscot) August 6, 2018