Scottish Qualifications Authority publishes 2020 Attainment Statistics

Tuesday 04 August 2020

  • SQA congratulates 138,000 learners on their achievements
  • Thanks to schools and colleges providing estimates for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses, which have been central to certification.
  • A-C attainment rate for National 5 – 81.1% (2019 – 78.2%)
  • A-C attainment rate at Higher – 78.9% (2019 – 74.8%)
  • A-C attainment rate at Advanced Higher – 84.9% (2019 – 79.4%)
  • 51,942 SQA Awards, National Progression Awards, and National Certificates (2019 – 44,744)
  • 73.8% of entries across National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher awarded the estimated grade. The relative judgement of teachers and lecturers was fully accepted across all entries. 99.0% of entries either awarded the original estimate or were changed to within one grade of the original estimate provided by schools and colleges. Some adjustment was required to ensure fairness to all candidates and maintain national standards.
  • Overall entries increased by 15,797 to more than 650,000. More than 69,000 candidates receiving their results by text and/or e-mail.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority today (Tuesday 4 August 2020) announces the results for National Courses, and a range of vocational qualifications for 2020.

Results certificates have been sent to 138,000 candidates across Scotland.

In this exceptional year and under uniquely challenging circumstances, candidates have been certificated based on estimates provided by schools and colleges, with SQA applying a moderation process to ensure fairness to all learners and to maintain standards and credibility in Scotland’s qualification system.

These qualifications include Nationals, Highers and Advanced Highers for candidates in schools and colleges. In addition, a range of vocational qualifications such as SQA Awards, Skills for Work courses, National Progression Awards and National Certificates are also being certificated today. These form part of a broad offering of qualifications which support learners to progress into employment, training, further and higher education.

Throughout the year, SQA also awards a number of qualifications such as Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs), Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs), which supports the Scottish Government in both its youth employment strategy, and its wider economic strategy. Our qualifications are also being taken as part of Foundation Apprenticeships, which are available to school learners, allowing them to complete elements of a Modern Apprenticeship and spend part of their school week at college and with a local employer.

Fiona Robertson, SQA’s Chief Executive and Scotland’s Chief Examining Officer, said:

“Everyone receiving their results today can have confidence that their achievements and hard work have been rewarded.

In a short space of time and amidst uniquely challenging circumstances for everyone, the Scottish education system has come together to ensure that candidates in 2020 can be certificated. This is a strong set of results and they should feel very proud of their achievements. They can now progress with confidence, to continued education, training or employment.

We have:

  • Delivered fairness to learners, through a consistent, evidence-based approach to awarding, supported by an Equalities Impact Assessment and a Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment.
  • Ensured safe and secure certification of our qualifications, taking difficult decisions when needed, following public health advice; and
  • Maintained the integrity and credibility of our qualifications system, ensuring that standards are maintained over time, in the interests of learners, through judicious moderation of grades.

Full information on our approach to certification is being published today.

I would like to thank the thousands of teachers and lecturers, SQA co-ordinators, school and college staff, local authorities, professional associations and national organisations, who have worked together to provide us with their candidates’ estimated grades, without which we would not be able to issue certificates today.

I would also like to acknowledge my sincere appreciation to all SQA staff and appointees who have worked very hard to deliver.”

Summary of entries, attainment and attainment rates for each National Qualification type, 2020 and 2019
SCQF level National Qualification 2020 Entries 2020 Attainment 2020Attainment rate 2019 Entries 2019 Attainment 2019 Attainment rate
SCQF 2 National 2† 2,015 1,518 75.3% 2,070 1,596 77.1%
SCQF 3 National 3† 21,802 19,947 91.5% 19,285 16,958 87.9%
  Skills for Work† 30 30 100% 13 0 0.0%
SCQF 4 National 4† 103,625 94,228 90.9% 104,866 92,845 88.5%
  Skills for Work† 4,084 3,219 78.8% 3,698 2,869 77.6%
SCQF 5 National 5* 300,344 243,572 81.1% 288,552 225,594 78.2%
  Skills for Work† 10,345 8,860 85.6% 8,023 6,633 82.7%
SCQF 6 Higher* 185,844 146,643 78.9% 185,914 138,972 74.8%
  Skills for Work† 223 170 76.2% 204 160 78.4%
SCQF 7 Advanced Higher* 23,570 20,010 84.9% 23,460 18,627 79.4%
Total   651,882     636,085    
  Scottish Baccalaureate* 152 116 76.3% 157 109 69.4%

* 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 (“Distinction” or “Pass” outcomes).

†For National 2 to National 4, and Skills for Work courses, which are ungraded, the attainment and attainment rate is based on entries which have resulted in a pass.

English

There were 46,626 entries at National 5 in 2020, (45,593 in 2019) with an A-C attainment rate of 87.6% (86.3% in 2019). At Higher level there were 36,205 entries (35,461 in 2019), with an A-C attainment rate of 76.6% (73.2% in 2019).

Mathematics

There were 41,141 entries at National 5 (41,586 in 2019), with an A-C attainment rate of 66.7%, (65.5% in 2019). At Higher level there were 19,160 entries (18,626 in 2019), with an A-C attainment rate of 72.3% (72.4% in 2019).

Applications of Mathematics

There were 10,430 entries at National 5, (4,458 in 2019) with an A-C attainment rate of 67.3% (58.5% in 2019).

Comparison of 2020 estimates versus prior attainment levels

The charts below provide A to C attainment rates for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher from 2016-2019, attainment rate estimates for 2020 and attainment results for 2020.

The A to C attainment rates in 2020 are:

  • At National 5, 243,572 or 81.1% (225,594 or 78.2% in 2019)
  • At Higher is 146,643 or 78.9% (138,972 or 74.8% in 2019), and
  • Advanced Higher is 20,010 or 84.9% (18,627 or 79.4% in 2019).

National 5

 

Higher

 

Advanced Higher

 

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

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

Attainment figures for National Progression Awards (NPAs) and National Certificates (NCs) are also included. In total, 16,230 NPAs and 4,284 NCs have been achieved (13,136 NPAs and 4,873 NCs in 2019). 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.

SQA Awards

Attainment figures for SQA Awards are included in the statistics. In total, 31,428 have been achieved in 2020 (26,735 in 2019).

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.

Summary of attainment for Awards, National Progression Awards and National Certificates, at each SCQF level, 2016 to 2020
  Attainment
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
SCQF level 1          
Awards 399 439 386 290 283
SCQF level 2          
Awards 912 1,004 664 1,167 750
National Progression Awards 91 69 121 88 77
SCQF level 3          
Awards 4,253 4,428 3,937 4,303 3,863
National Certificates 5 7 0 1 18
National Progression Awards 207 100 142 177 135
SCQF level 4          
Awards 11,736 10,292 9,851 10,834 11,391
National Certificates 166 223 213 345 371
National Progression Awards 4,321 4,371 4,759 4,803 4,958
SCQF level 5          
Awards 8,232 5,184 3,755 3,662 2,907
National Certificates 1,465 1,809 2,450 2,691 4,103
National Progression Awards 5,915 5,252 4,604 4,395 4,958
SCQF level 6          
Awards 5,896 5,388 4,258 3,523 2,710
National Certificates 2,648 2,834 3,538 3,585 4,920
National Progression Awards 5,696 3,344 2,848 1,619 1,611
TOTAL 51,942 44,744 41,526 41,483 43,055

Skills for Work

Skills for Work courses – available across SCQF levels 3-6, are also included in the attainment statistics. In total, 12,279 Skills for Work courses have been achieved, (9,662 in 2019).

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, and 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.

  2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
Entries 14,682 11,938 10,508 10,341 10,008
Attainment 12,279 9,662 8,779 8,665 8,513
Attainment rate 83.6% 80.9% 83.5% 83.8% 85.1%

The SQA’s full awarding methodology, Equality Impact Assessment and Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment reports have also been published in full as planned.

Moderation Summary Reports