Galloway pupils the biggest exam losers?

Like all schools in Galloway, Stranraer Academy is alleged to be offering students a narrower choice of subjects
Like all schools in Galloway, Stranraer Academy is alleged to be offering students a narrower choice of subjects

New research by an independent think-tank claims to “expose” a disturbing decline in the number of exam subjects the region’s school pupils are being allowed to sit.

The Reform Scotland report, entitled “National 4s and 5s: The Accidental Attainment Gap”, claims to have found that the maximum number of N4s or N5s a pupil can sit varies from five to nine depending entirely on the school they go to, not on their ability.

A spokesperson for the think-tank, which has been linked to the Conservative Party, said: “Only a minority of Scottish state schools now allow pupils to sit more than six exams, with a few offering only five.

“Independent schools continue to offer eight or nine.

“The research, based on data provided to Reform Scotland by local authorities under Freedom of Information laws, follows a similar investigation in 2016.

“It shows the situation has worsened considerably since then, with state schools continuing to reduce the number of exams children are permitted to sit, regardless of ability. In 2016, all schools in Dumfries and Galloway offered eight exams; now no schools in the region offer eight.”

However, a Dumfries and Galloway Council spokesman retorted: “This suggests that a limit has been set by the council as the Education Authority regarding the number of subjects a child in the senior phase can sit .

“ This is incorrect. Dumfries and Galloway Council does not set limits on the number of subjects or exams pupils sit in the senior phase and the position remains the same as it always has.

“The number of subjects pupils sit is a matter for the individual schools to determine with the senior phase being considered over a 3 year period.

“For example, some young people may embark on 2 year course in S4 and S5 so reducing the number they are sitting in S4.

“ This number of subjects studied does vary across our schools in S4 but at no point does it disadvantage individual young people in the number of subjects or qualification types they are presented for.”

Regional Labour MSP Colin Smyth, appearing to agree with Reform Scotland, commented: “These cuts to subject choice are cutting off opportunities for young people across the region.

“Education was supposed to be the SNP Government’s top priority.

“This situation is partly caused by their implementation of Curriculum for Excellence .”