Four thousand pupils in Dumfries and Galloway received their exam results this week, with figures showing a slight drop in the pass rate.
The Higher pass rate stands at 77.1 per cent this year compared with 77.4 per cent in 2013, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) said.
However, the number of students passing their Highers increased from 141,257 last year to 147,899 in 2014 – a figure the Scottish Government hailed as a “record number”.
A total of 191,850 Highers were sat across all subjects over the last year – an increase of more than 9,000 on 2013.
This year’s exams results are the first time the new National 4 and 5 qualifications have been awarded after they were brought in as part of the Scottish Government’s Curriculum for Excellence reforms, with the bulk of pupils in S4 now sitting these instead of Standard Grades.
Dr Janet Brown, SQA’s chief executive and Scotland’s chief examining officer, said today’s results were a reflection of the “hard work and commitment” of students as she claimed the new qualifications had broadened the “quality of learning”.
However, the pass rate for maths fell slightly from 72.5 per cent to 72.1 per cent over the last year. There was also a decline in the Higher pass rate for English, with a fall from 75 per cent in 2013 to 73.9 per cent last year.
Teaching unions said schools had been forced to deliver the changes to subjects at a time of squeezed budgets and with staff taking on heavier workloads.
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of Scotland’s largest teaching union, the EIS, said: “Whilst schools will take time to examine the detail of the data closely, it is gratifying to see the positive attainment rates in the new National qualifications, particularly in light of the challenging circumstances in which these new courses were introduced.”