The SSTA today commented on the results achieved by Dumfries and Galloway pupils in the Higher examination diet in 2006. The results were published by the Scottish Executive Education Department earlier this month.

Speaking in Edinburgh SSTA General Secretary, David Eaglesham said:“While the SSTA believes that the publication of examination results for individual schools and the arrangements of these “league tables” has no sound educational function nor any value as statistics, the performance of whole authorities can be seen differently. Variations caused by catchment areas, social factors and the relative abilities of the various year groups are able to be disregarded when the performance of the candidates in the whole authority is examined.”

Taking a closer look at the performance of one authority Mr Eaglesham continued:“In August 2003, Dumfries and Galloway took the decision to remove from their posts of responsibility the Principal Teachers of the individual teaching subjects in secondary schools. It is these teachers who have the greatest degree of expertise in preparing candidates for national examinations. The effectiveness of that expertise was significantly reduced by the authority's unilateral abolition of the post of Subject PT.”Referring to the SEED statistics on Higher pass rates Mr Eaglesham said:

“In the year 2000, 28% of the previous years S4 pupils attained the benchmark 3 on more Higher passes at level 6. In 2006 that figure fell to 21%. This represents a 25% fall off in examination performance. The linkage between exam results and subject PT post abolition needs urgent investigation.”

Adding a warning to other authorities, Mr Eaglesham stated:“Other authorities continue, albeit at a slower pace, to move towards the same system as Dumfries & Galloway. It should now be apparent to all, as was clear to the SSTA from the outset, the post of Subject PT in Scottish Secondary schools is vital and its continuance is essential if our young people are to progress as they should. They should not suffer for bad educational policy decisions.”

Calling for a change of approach Mr Eaglesham concluded:“It is not too late; the vast majority of the former PTs are still available. The situation can be remedied if there is a will to recognise the error in educational policy.”As Professor Gavin McCrone concluded in his Report of May 2000:

“Committee recognises the key role played by Principal Teachers and recommends that the grade should continue.”

Further information fromDavid Eaglesham

General Secretary

29 December 2006