Scotland’s independent think tank
Scotland’s independent think tank

National 4s and 5s: Unintended consequences


Reform Scotland’s latest briefing highlights a large variation across Scotland in the number of National 4s and National 5s pupils are permitted to sit.

In some cases the variation is between local authorities, however in others there is variation within council areas.

The practical implication is that some pupils are permitted to sit only 5 examinations, while others are allowed to sit 8. This is not a choice for an individual pupil and their parents – it is a mandatory maximum, and it leads to a situation where different pupils have different numbers of qualifications based not on ability but on a decision made by their school or local authority.

The briefing – National 4s and 5s: Unintended Consequences includes full tables containing detailed information on individual schools in Scotland.


Notes:  All the figures contained in this briefing come from official Freedom of Information responses from local authorities.  

Following publication Fife Council has informed Reform Scotland that the information the council provided in its response with regard to Bell Baxter High School was incorrect and that the number should have been 6, as opposed to 5.


National 4s & 5s: Unintended Consequences