Results for National Courses and Awards 2017

SQA students in exam hall

  • A-C attainment rates at National 5 (79.5%) and Higher (77.0%) are largely in line with 2016
  • There has been a reduction of 1.7 percentage points in the A-C attainment rate at Advanced Higher (80.0%), in comparison to 2016
  • Attainment of SQA Awards, National Progression Awards, and National Certificates is 41,483
  • The number of entries for National Qualifications (657,528), a 1.9% decrease compared to 2016
  • More than 56,000 candidates have signed up this year to receive results by text and/or e-mail from 8am

The Scottish Qualifications Authority announces the results for National Courses and Awards 2017 today (Tuesday 8 August 2017).

Results certificates have been sent to 136,889 candidates across Scotland. Candidates have been rewarded for completing coursework, exams and unit assessments for the 2016-17 academic year in a wide range of qualifications and subjects at all levels.

These qualifications and subjects include Nationals, Highers and Advanced Highers for candidates in schools and colleges. In addition, a range of Awards, Skills for Work, National Progression Awards and National Certificates are also being certificated today. These are part of a broad curriculum and support the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) programme.

Throughout the year, the SQA also awards a number of other qualifications such as SVQs, HNCs and HNDs which support the Scottish Government’s youth employment strategy.

Dr Janet Brown, SQA's chief executive and Scotland's chief examining officer, said:

“First and foremost, we would like to congratulate the thousands of young people across Scotland for their hard work, dedication and commitment in achieving these results. Whichever route is taken from here, whether that be the world of work, training or education, they can take immense pride in their achievements. Recognition and praise should also go to the teachers, lecturers, parents and carers who have supported their young people in their accomplishments.

“The ever-increasing demands of modern society means that we have to continually ensure our full range of qualifications and awards enable learners to develop the skills and knowledge required by employers, training providers, educators and society. Our diverse qualifications allow each and every young person in Scotland to access an award at a level which meets their skills and aspirations. It is encouraging and important to note the different paths candidates take in their pursuit of success.

“These results also show the strength of the education system working together in partnership for the benefit of our younger generation. Every year we work with around 15,000 ‘appointees’ – teachers, lecturers and subject specialists who help us to set, monitor and mark our qualifications and we thank them for their professionalism, expertise and commitment.”

Summary of entries, attainment and attainment rates for each National Qualification type, 2017 and 2016.

SCQF level National Qualification 2017 Entries 2017 Attainment 2017 Attainment Rate 2016 Entries 2016 Attainment 2016 Attainment Rate
SCQF 2 National 2† 1,896 1,547 81.6% 2,449 1,849 75.5%
  Access 2† - - - 20 19 95.0%
SCQF 3 National 3† 17,114 15,543 90.8% 18,475 16,659 90.2%
  Access 3† - - - 3 3 100%
  Skills for Work and Personal Development 15 15 100.0% 32 24 75.0%
SCQF 4 National 4† 116,032 107,631 92.8% 122,961 114,635 93.2%
  Skills for Work and Personal Development 3,767 2,982 79.2% 4,218 3,510 83.2%
SCQF 5 National 5* 293,220 233,005 79.5% 295,083 234,160 79.4%
  Skills for Work and Personal Development 6,126 5,311 86.7% 5,372 4,673 87.0%
SCQF 6 Higher* 194,813 150,010 77.0% 197,774 152,701 77.2%
  Skills for Work and Personal Development 433 357 82.4% 386 306 79.3%
SCQF 7 Advanced Higher* 24,112 19,283 80.0% 23,795 19,443 81.7%
Total   657,528     670,568    
  Scottish Baccalaureate* 161 138 85.7% 140 103 73.6%

*For National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher, which are graded, the attainment and attainment rate is based on Grade A-C attainment. The Scottish Baccalaureate attainment is based on the total number of passes and distinctions.

†For Access, National 2- National 4, courses, which are ungraded, the attainment and attainment rate is based on entries which have resulted in a pass (2016 was the last year Access qualifications were available).


Compared to 2016, the total number of entries at National 5 level increased to 46,273 from 45,856 with the A-C attainment rate at 87.2% largely in line with the 86.8% last year. At Higher level there were 35,716 candidates this year compared to 36,356 in 2016, with an A-C attainment rate of 77.3% compared to 78.8% in 2016.


Compared to 2016, the total number of entries at National 5 level increased to 42,191 from 41,780 with the A-C attainment rate at 63.8%, compared to 63.2% last year. At Higher level there were 18,861 candidates this year compared to 18,868 in 2016, with an A-C attainment rate of 74.0% compared to 73.5% in 2016. 

National 5 Lifeskills Mathematics achieved an A-C attainment rate of 46.5% compared to 35.8% in 2016.

Curriculum for Excellence 

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) represents a different approach to learning and assessment and in the way education is delivered. This approach to learning has required new assessment methods and qualifications to ensure continuity of learning and assessment in secondary schools, as young people have moved from their broad general education, in S1 to S3, through to their senior phase, in S4 to S6.

In designing the qualifications SQA’s key aim has been to help schools and colleges prepare young people to be successful in this fast-changing world and to give them the confidence to use their skills and knowledge to tackle new challenges.

The qualifications provide a balance of skills and knowledge and with more flexible assessment that allows teachers more scope to ensure that assessment supports the learning.

National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications include final exams and course assessments to allow candidates to demonstrate a broad range of skills and knowledge.

In addition to the Nationals, Highers and Advanced Highers, SQA provides a suite of qualifications that meet a wider range of learners’ interest and abilities, including awards in areas such as leadership, employability, and personal finance, as well as a range of Skills for Work courses. These are part of a broadening of the curriculum and also support the Developing the Young Workforce programme.

This wide range of qualifications will help young people reach their full potential as they progress from their broad general education through to college, university, apprenticeships, other learning, training and employment.

National Progression Awards (NPAs) and National Certificates (NCs)

Attainment figures for National Progression Awards (NPAs) and National Certificates (NCs) are also included. In total, 11,082 NPAs and 6,622 NCs have been achieved compared to 11,739 NPAs and 9,412 NCs in 2016. NPAs are designed to assess a defined set of skills and knowledge in specialist vocational areas, such as Construction and Childcare.

National Certificates are designed to prepare people for employment, career development or progression to more advanced study in areas such as Sound Production and Fabrication and Welding Engineering.

  2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
SCQF level 1          
Awards 290 283 207 178 152
SCQF level 2          
Awards 1,167 750 493 301 130
National Progression Awards 88 77 64 101 121
SCQF level 3          
Awards 4,303 3,863 3,205 2,263 1,216
National Certificates 1 18 7 17 6
National Progression Awards 177 135 119 161 129
SCQF level 4          
Awards 10,834 11,391 9,673 7,887 4,542
National Certificates 345 371 273 89 130
National Progression Awards 4,803 4,958 4,336 4,111 4,153
SCQF level 5          
Awards 3,662 2,907 1,952 1,514 578
National Certificates 2,691 4,103 3,219 2,582 2,454
National Progression Awards 4,395 4,958 4,120 4,206 3,685
SCQF level 6          
Awards 3,523 2,710 1,305 801 588
National Certificates 3,585 4,920 3,989 2,729 2,664
National Progression Awards 1,619 1,611 969 701 554
TOTAL 41,483 43,055 33,931 27,641 21,102

SQA Awards

Attainment figures for SQA Awards are included in the statistics. In total, 23,779 have been achieved, compared to 21,904 in 2016.

SQA Awards are designed to develop and provide evidence of specific skills that will help learners in the world of work and everyday life. Awards include Modern Languages for Life and Work, Employability, Scottish Studies and Enterprise.

Skills for Work

Skills for Work courses – available across SCQF levels 2-6, are also included in the statistics. In total, 8,665 Skills for Work courses have been achieved.

Skills for Work courses focus on the world of work and the generic employability skills needed for success in the workplace. The courses offer opportunities for learners to acquire these critical generic employability skills through a variety of practical experiences that are linked to a particular vocational area such as construction, hairdressing, hospitality.

Young people taking one of these Skills for Work Courses will normally spend some of their time at a local college, other training provider or employer.

  2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
Entries 10,341 10,008 11,883 12,065 11,617
Attainment 8,665 8,513 9,980 9,465 9,198
Attainment rate 83.8% 85.1% 84.0% 78.5% 79.2%

Visit our Statistics section for more information or