Jedburgh head teacher defends exam results

Part of Jedburgh Grammar School
Part of Jedburgh Grammar School

Not one pupil at Jedburgh Grammar School received an A-pass in an Advanced Higher exam this year, figures published this week reveal.

And less than a fifth of Higher exams were passed with the top grade, with an overall pass rate of 68 per cent for the school – 12 per cent less than the Borders average.

However, the head teacher has said he is pleased with the school’s performance when the full context of the figures, produced by the council after students received their results on Tuesday, is taken into account.

Kevin Ryalls told The Southern: “I am quite upbeat about the exam results.

“The way they have been presented is not the normal way of analysing these statistics, as the benchmarks are the percentage of pupils passing five or more National 5s and three or more Highers.That is what HM Inspectorate of Education will look at, and ours were up this year.”

Mr Ryalls added: “Like all head teachers, I am looking at the results really closely and we will be ready when the term starts again to go into real detail with staff to look at areas we can work on – but there has been a steady improvement in terms of the benchmark figures.”

He added that the school allowed pupils to aim for higher course awards if they had shown their capabilities throughout in-term units.

“As a school we want to instil ambition and effort and a positive mindset in our pupils, and encourage them to take on challenges – and they have worked very, very hard this year,” he said.

In the new National 4 qualifications, 79 per cent of students at Jedburgh Grammar passed, the lowest in a region which had an average pass rate of 92 per cent.

The school also recorded the equal lowest pass rate at National 5 level locally, at 81 per cent.

This is nine per cent below the regional average, but in line with the Scottish figure. 
Of the Jedburgh pupils who took Advanced Highers, 71 
per cent passed, the lowest rate in the area and 10 per cent below the national average.

Yvonne McCracken, a senior education department official at the council, said: “We are pleased with the ongoing performance of Jedburgh Grammar. Under Kevin Ryalls’ management the school is very much travelling in the right direction.”