Findings of Scottish exams inquiry to be published

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The Education Secretary has told MSPs he will publish an outline of an inquiry into worsening exam results.

John Swinney has come under fire in recent weeks after it emerged he ordered a review into the reasons for the falling pass rates in Higher exams, while publicly putting the reduction down to “annual variance”.

An outline of the review's findings is to be published. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

An outline of the review's findings is to be published. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

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Last week, the First Minister pledged the Scottish Government would publish the findings “as and when we have them”.

Last year, it was found that pass rates had dropped from 76.8 per cent to 74.8 per cent on the previous year, raising questions from opposition politicians about why the figures had fallen for the fourth year in a row.

Speaking during a Conservative debate on education on Wednesday, the party’s education spokeswoman Liz Smith pressed the importance of Parliament being told the outcome of the probe undertaken by Mr Swinney’s staff.

She said: “What I’m interested in is what the reasons your staff discovered were the cause of the four-year decline in the Highers. I did not get told... about what the specific problem actually was.

“Is it not the case that this Parliament would be better off if we could have an assessment of what the problem is, especially as it relates to the so-called gold standard of Scottish education, and what we’re going to do about it?”

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The education secretary then intervened to say he would publish “an outline” of the review’s findings.

He said: “I will publish the outline of the information that was gathered as part of this exercise.

“I was going to confirm that in my speech but I’m happy to confirm that now.”

The Holyrood debate came after it emerged yesterday that hundreds of Scots schools are operating below 50 per cent capacity while others are overcrowded, according to the Times newspaper.

The figures have prompted calls for an increase in the number of mergers.

It comes after Edinburgh City Council agreed to replace Castlebrae Community High School after more then a decade of local resistance.

Pupil numbers had dwindled to 180 in building designed for 600.

A new campus is expected to be opened next year.