Swinney: 'Students must chart their own unique path’

Ahead of SQA results day, Scotland's education secretary, John Swinney, says we shouldn't just focus on Higher passes

SQA exam results day: Scotland's education secretary, John Swinney, has told students to ‘chart their own unique path’

A young person’s experience at school can help them to discover what they are passionate about so they can find a pathway to a career in which they can flourish.

Curriculum for Excellence is designed to help young people become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. But that doesn’t mean the same thing for everybody.

In the senior phase – S4 to S6 of secondary school – young people can work towards qualifications and awards and gain experiences to work out what direction they wish to go, and how the education system can help them achieve their goals.


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Our education system provides many options for young people to chart their own unique path and equip themselves with vital skills for learning, life and work.

Success could mean moving straight into a job, gaining qualifications in-work, starting an apprenticeship, studying at college, gaining the qualifications to go on to university or a combination of more than one of these routes.

SQA results day: 'Different routes to success'

When a young person achieves any of these, it is a moment of equal celebration.

Work to increase collaboration between industry and education means that routes into employment are more diverse than ever. Uptake in skills-based qualifications is increasing substantially year on year.

Traditional metrics like Higher pass rates and university places received do not tell the full story of our young people's successes through S4-6 and beyond. Looking only at this does a disservice to those who may be following different routes to success.

We must embrace the diversity of the options available to young people as they are considering their next steps and we are adopting this approach in the run-up to SQA results day on Tuesday.

On 6 August, young people across the country will receive a text, an email or a letter with their results for a range of qualifications and awards: National 1-5s Highers and Advanced Highers, National Progression Awards, National Certificates and Skills for Work awards.

Our social media campaign #MyLearnerJourney celebrates all forms of learner success and promotes the range of awards, qualifications and progression routes at all Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) levels available from S4-S6, as well as informal learning opportunities like volunteering and youth work.

We, and partners across the education system, will be sharing examples of different forms of success and I invite everyone to share their own learner journey stories using the hashtag #MyLearnerJourney.

John Swinney is Scotland’s education secretary and deputy first minister

*This article was originally published on the Scottish government education blog as part of the #MyLearnerJourney campaign

Look out for Tes Scotland's live blog on exam results day – Tuesday, 6 August

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