Scottish Schools Ranked: The 18 best performing secondary schools in Scotland according to latest exam results

How the rankings are calculated

The rankings are based on the percentage of pupils at each school who achieved the Scottish Government’s educational “gold standard” of five Highers, or their equivalent, in 2022. The data was published by the Scottish Government on its own website. Where schools are tied, the share of pupils passing four or more Highers, then three or more if necessary, was used to determine the ranking.

The top 18 schools in Scotland

The best performing school in Scotland was Jordanhill School in Glasgow, where 89 per cent of pupils left with at least five Highers. It was followed by Bearsden Academy in East Dunbartonshire, with 88 per cent. The third place went to St Ninian’s High School in East Renfrewshire, with 79 per cent. East Renfrewshire was the top performing council area in Scotland, with six out of its seven secondary schools placing in the top 50. Here are the 18 schools with the best exam results in Scotland:

  • Jordanhill School (Glasgow) – 89 per cent
  • Bearsden Academy (East Dunbartonshire) – 88 per cent
  • St Ninian’s High School (East Renfrewshire) – 79 per cent
  • Woodfarm High School (East Renfrewshire) – 78 per cent
  • Mearns Castle High School (East Renfrewshire) – 77 per cent
  • Williamwood High School (East Renfrewshire) – 76 per cent
  • Boroughmuir High School (Edinburgh) – 75 per cent
  • St Thomas of Aquin’s High School (Edinburgh) – 74 per cent
  • Cults Academy (Aberdeen City) – 73 per cent
  • Dunblane High School (Stirling) – 72 per cent
  • James Gillespie’s High School (Edinburgh) – 71 per cent
  • St Mary’s Music School (Edinburgh) – 71 per cent
  • Douglas Academy (East Dunbartonshire) – 70 per cent
  • St Margaret’s School for Girls Aberdeen (Aberdeen City) – 70 per cent
  • The High School of Glasgow (Glasgow) – 70 per cent
  • The Mary Erskine School (Edinburgh) – 70 per cent
  • Balerno Community High School (Edinburgh) – 69 per cent
  • Banchory Academy (Aberdeenshire) – 69 per cent

scottish secondary schools exam results

The impact of Covid-19 on exam results

The exam results in 2022 were lower than the previous two years, when the Covid-19 pandemic meant exams were cancelled and teacher assessments used to award grades. However, they were higher than pre-pandemic levels. Across Scotland, 39 per cent of school leavers in 2022 had gained at least five Highers, or equivalent, compared to 45 per cent in 2021 and 44 per cent in 2020. The Scottish Government said that presenting exam performance figures in league tables is “misleading” because it overlooks factors such as teaching quality, the number of pupils with special educational needs or whether the school serves a disadvantaged area.

The challenges and opportunities for Scottish education

The exam results are only one indicator of the quality of education in Scotland. There are many other aspects that need to be considered, such as the curriculum, the learning environment, the wellbeing of pupils and staff, the support for learners with additional needs, the attainment gap, the skills development, the career guidance, the parental involvement, and the community engagement. The Scottish education system faces many challenges, such as the impact of the pandemic, the teacher shortage, the budget cuts, the digital divide, the mental health crisis, and the climate emergency. However, it also has many opportunities, such as the innovation, the collaboration, the diversity, the creativity, the resilience, and the ambition of its learners and educators. The future of Scottish education depends on how well these challenges and opportunities are addressed and balanced.

What will happen next?

The exam results are not the end of the journey for the pupils, but the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. They will have to make important decisions about their future, whether it is to continue their education, to enter the workforce, to start a business, to travel the world, or to pursue their passions. They will also have to face the uncertainties and complexities of the 21st century, such as the globalisation, the digitalisation, the automation, the sustainability, the diversity, and the democracy. They will need to develop not only their academic knowledge and skills, but also their personal and social attributes, such as their confidence, their curiosity, their creativity, their critical thinking, their communication, their collaboration, and their citizenship. They will have to be lifelong learners, who can adapt and thrive in a changing world.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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