East Renfrewshire pupils praised for their hard work

Pupils have been praised for their hard work during uncertain times as initial analysis of updated grades shows “best-ever” results for some schools.

Exams were cancelled due to Covid-19 and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) lowered hundreds of thousands of estimated grades after considering secondary school’s past results.

But, after anger from students and their families, the downgraded results have now reverted to the estimates made by teachers.

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Initial “high-level” analysis, based on the data submitted by schools, has been carried out by East Renfrewshire Council.

A council officer told education committee members that at National 5 and S4, 81 percent of East Renfrewshire’s cohort achieved five or more awards, up from 78 percent in 2019.

At S4, 95 percent of pupils achieved five or more National 4 qualifications or better “which was similar to this time last year”.

“Barrhead, Eastwood, Mearns Castle, St Ninians and Woodfarm high schools all achieved their best-ever S4 results,” he added.

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The higher results for S5 pupils were “very strong across all measures”.

One or more highers were achieved by 87 percent of pupils and 72 percent achieved three or more highers.

“In both measures there was an increase of around about six percent,” the officer said.

“The proportion of the roll that achieved five or more highers was 49 percent, up from 44 percent the previous year – and the highest result to date.

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“It is worth noting all East Renfrewshire schools had some strong results at S5 but perhaps to particularly highlight Barrhead, Eastwood and Woodfarm who had their best results for all three measures.”

At advanced higher and 26, the performance across East Renfrewshire was “also very strong” as 45 percent of the original fourth year cohort achieved one or more advanced highers, up from 40 percent the previous year.

Eastwood, Mearns Castle, Williamwood and Woodfarm had their best results for this measure.

More detailed analysis will be carried out, including “a focused look at equity”, once updated information has been received from the SQA.

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Schools had submitted their estimates on May 29 and the SQA carried out a process of moderation “designed to ensure consistency across schools and with results from previous years”.

“This was based on the average attainment in each subject over the last four years in each school and no account was taken of prior attainment at individual pupil level,” the council officer added.

He added concerns were “expressed nationally” that certain learners had been “disproportionately affected” before the U-turn from the Scottish Government.

Council leader Tony Buchanan said the work from teaching staff has been “incredible”.

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“They had watched their pupils over the months and therefore gave them a marking accordingly.

“Congratulations to our students as well for the work they had put in over the course of the year to ensure their marks are justified.”

He added “a lot of lessons have probably been learned” over the methodology.

The council officer said: “The closure of schools in March and the subsequent cancellation of the exam diet has resulted in a great deal of uncertainty and in many cases worry for our young people.

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“The estimate process has been hugely demanding for the staff in our schools and I’d like to take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank them for all their work through that.

“The successes that have been highlighted at S4, S5 and S6 are a tribute to the hard work and dedication of the pupils across East Renfrewshire, exceptionally well supported by our staff and their parents.”

He added SQA was “currently engaging” on plans for 2021, including the timing of exams and assessment arrangements.

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