Pupils across the Borders received the brown envelopes containing their exam results this week – and while they may have opened them gingerly, many were left smiling.
Scottish Borders Council reported that the results were its best ever, showing continued improvement in relation to previous years.
There has been a strong performance by S4 pupils, with 42% gaining five or more National 5 qualifications – a 4% increase from last year, with a total of 505 students from across the Borders achieving this measure of success, compared to 455 last year.
The number of S5 pupils attaining five highers has increased by 2% from 15% to 17%, with 197 attaining this standard compared to 183 last year.
This is well above the national average in recent years and represents the best-ever performance from Borders pupils at this level.
The record performance of 34% of young people leaving school with five or more highers at the end of S6 has been maintained for a second year.
And 21% of the departing sixth years achieved a qualification at advanced higher level, the highest available qualification possible from a secondary school, representing a 3% increase over the last two years.
In addition, there is evidence of continuing strong literacy and numeracy performance, with 93% of S4 students attaining a national qualification in English.
This is an increase of 1% on last year, with 1,103 young people being successful compared to 1,086 last year.
There is a similar picture for mathematics, with 82% of S4 students gaining a national qualification, up 0.2% on last year with 978 young people compared to 913 doing well.
Both these figures represent a record performance for pupils since the new qualifications came in three years ago.
Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison, the council’s executive member for education, said: “Once again, I am delighted to be able to congratulate the young people of the Scottish Borders and their teachers on the results they have achieved today. They clearly show that Borders pupils are working hard, performing well and being well prepared to leave our schools and take their place in the world.
“These results paint a highly positive picture of the educational experience we provide for our children and young people with an ever-increasing number of them being able to leave education with higher levels of qualifications and attainment and move on to positive and sustained destinations.
“They also provide strong evidence that the implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence in Scottish Borders Schools is beginning to pay off in terms of giving our pupils every opportunity to achieve their highest potential.
“It is also encouraging to see that the rigour of fourth-year qualifications is proving to be highly effective in preparing students for achievement at higher level.
“There has, of course, been a great deal of hard work and dedication to get to this point – not only by the pupils themselves, but also by the teachers, parents and carers who have taught, encouraged and supported them to strive to achieve their personal best – and they are all to be commended for their commitment.”
Speaking on behalf of the headteachers at Galashiels, Earlston, Kelso and Jedburgh high schools, chief officer education Michelle Strong said: “I am delighted with the overall performance of our pupils this year. Many of our young people have done very well and are to be congratulated on their success.
“The increased performance at all levels is testament to the hard work of students, commitment of teachers, and the support of parents and carers.
“The significant increase in attainment in fourth year will form a firm foundation for future performance.”
Mrr Aitchison added: “If a pupil or parent has any queries about their results, there are a number of places offering advice.
“They should phone their school in the first instance and staff will be on hand to help.”
Support is also available through the Skills Development Scotland helpline on 0808 100 8000. This is open from 9am-5pm until August 12. Advisers can provide access to information on UCAS course vacancies at college and universities across the UK, Confirmation and Clearing, advice about Modern Apprenticeships and employment and training opportunities.
Additional information is available on the SQA website, www.sqa.org.uk
What the pupils say: Pages 20-21.