Boroughmuir High School in Edinburgh came joint first in Scotland, along with Glasgow’s Jordanhill School, after figures released yesterday showed 69 per cent of S5 pupils obtained three Highers or more.
But despite Boroughmuir’s strong showing, just a few miles across the capital not one student left either Wester Hailes Education Centre or Castlebrae Community High with a Higher, let alone the qualifications needed for a university place.
In Glasgow, just 5 per cent of students at Govan High School obtained three or more Highers, while schools in deprived areas of Aberdeen and Dundee also performed poorly.
Across the country as a whole, East Renfrewshire scored well, with St Ninian’s, Williamwood and Mearns Castle all in the top ten. Dunblane High School and Balfron High, both in Stirling, also appeared in the top ten, while Cults Academy in Aberdeen, Douglas Academy in Milngavie and Gryffe Academy in Renfrewshire made up the other entries, alongside Linlithgow Academy and Banchory Academy.
However, in contrast to high-achieving pupils in more affluent areas, many pupils are continuing to leave school in deprived areas without Highers.
The situation led to claims of a “two-tier” education system, but the largest teaching union warned against the “flawed approach” of placing too much significance on league tables.
Figures for Scotland overall show 80 per cent of pupils achieved five or more Standard Grades or Intermediates at level 4 or better, a one percentage point rise on last year. Meanwhile, 27 per cent achieved three Highers – also up one percentage point on last year.
The statistics, which provide a detailed breakdown of pre-appeal exam results for every secondary school in Scotland, were published online yesterday on the Scottish Schools Online website run by Education Scotland.
As the Scottish Government does not publish exam league tables, The Scotsman has processed the figures to produce a list of the country’s best-performing secondary schools.
Responding to the disparity between Edinburgh’s best and worst-performing schools, education leader Paul Godzik said: “This news is bittersweet, as whilst we are proud to hold the top position, we also hold a number of the lower positions.
“However, when you look at a variety of measurements for our schools, some of our poorer-performing schools have made great strides this year, and the direction of travel is the right one.”
The council said that while Wester Hailes Education Centre had ranked in the bottom ten for Higher results, 22 per cent of pupils were now leaving with five or more Standard Grades, compared with 0 per cent five years ago.
The council approved plans to consult on the closure of Castlebrae Community High in October following a declining school roll and poor exam results.
Labour education spokesman Hugh Henry said the figures showed there was a growing divide across the country.
“These figures show that there is a two-tier schools system in this country – one for the better-off and one for the poorest – and in too many places the gap is growing,” he said.
“After five years of the SNP in government, Scotland is a deeply unequal society and the SNP’s refusal to address the facts is embedding that inequality. In a modern Scotland. It should not be where you are born that determines how much you achieve.”
Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith added: “The gap seems to be widening across the country, which chimes with warnings from the further education sector and employers that many of our secondary children are not achieving a good standard of literacy.”
However, Larry Flanagan, general-secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), said: “Merely looking at exam results… produces highly questionable results. It is clear, however, that deprivation continues to impact adversely on the attainment of too many pupils, and this is an area which needs to be addressed as we move forward towards the new Curriculum for Excellence senior phase.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This year we saw Scotland’s pupils achieve the best exam results since records began and, with the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence, we’ve halted years of decline in Scottish education performance.”