Results day: Pupils across Tayside and Fife react to their grades after exams cancellation

With many getting up early to check their phones or to look out the window for any sign of the post, it may look like any other results day for pupils across Tayside and Fife.

But after exams were cancelled for the first time in their history, it has been anything but normal for the thousands of young people who have missed out on sitting their qualifications.


Jamie McLeod, 17, was among those who faired better than expected, coming away with three As and B in his Highers and Advanced Highers.

The Harris Academy leaver, who is going to study law at Aberdeen University, received his results by text at around 8.10am and said: “I was dead chuffed with that.

“I’m proud of the work I did, I put a lot of work in before I got my unconditional offer for university.”

Jamie, who previously attended Madras College in St Andrews, and is the Scottish Youth Parliament member for North East Fife, urged those disappointed with results not to despair.

“I wanted to do musical theatre and go to drama school but now obviously the whole industry has collapsed so I’m taking a gap year.

Catriona Paterson, Dundee High School pupil

He said: “When one door closes there are always more open. You just need to change your path a bit. There will be something out there for everyone.”

Brother and sister duo Alex and Georgia Douglas were also delighted with their results, achieving 12 As between them in their National 5 and Higher qualifications.

Dundee High School pupil Alex, 15, said: “We were told the grades would be based on how we did throughout the year and how well our teachers thought we were doing but even they couldn’t tell us what was going to happen.

© DC Thomson
Brother and sister Alex, 15, and Georgia Douglas, 17, receive their results at Dundee High School.

“I didn’t do that well in my prelims and was planning on cramming it all in at the last minute ahead of the exams.

“So I was quite unhappy when the exams were cancelled but somehow managed to pull through and I’ve done better than expected.”

Sister Georgia, who managed a clean sweep of As in her five Highers, is now turning her attention to trying to secure a place to study English Literature at university.

She added: “At the start, people were a bit unsure as to how the exams would go but I’m really happy with how they have turned out.”

When one door closes there are always more open. You just need to change your path a bit. There will be something out there for everyone.”

Jamie McLeod, Harris Academy pupil

Catriona Paterson, who got three As in her final year, said: “I’m very surprised actually, I wasn’t expecting them to go as well as they did.

“I hate exams because of the pressure so I do better outside of them.

“But it was still scary because you know your own potential and you have to hope that your teachers see it too and that you’ve done enough throughout the year.”

Isla McRobbie, Catriona Paterson and Ross Clark open their results at High School of Dundee.

Despite her exam success, the continuing disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic has meant Catriona’s been forced to alter her after-school ambitions.

The 17-year-old added: “I wanted to do musical theatre and go to drama school but now obviously the whole industry has collapsed so I’m taking a gap year.

“I’m thinking of becoming a paramedic instead so that’ll a bit of career-path change!”

Izabel Samaeba has had a different experience than most pupils in Scotland, having only just started at Dundee High in January after moving to the country from Canada.

And despite the pandemic forcing schools to shut their doors just months after she first started, Izabel has taken the disruption in her stride.

“It’s definitely something that you wouldn’t expect to happen but honestly I think I deal with it pretty well, she said.

“It gave me a chance to catch up on the things I didn’t know and I think I got what I was expecting.”


Gregor Mitchell, 17, of Woodmill High School in Dunfermline plans to challenge two of his grades, but said he had done “not bad” overall.

© DC Thomson
Gregor Mitchell, of Woodmill High School, Dundee.

He earned an A, two Bs and C in his Highers.

He said: “I did well in some and got what I was expecting but there a couple I’m going to appeal because I don’t think they reflect how I would have done in exams.

“I’m not that unhappy because my results are fairly good but I am annoyed about my Modern Studies result (B) because I had been working towards an A for the whole year and my coursework reflected an A.”

Gregor, who is also a MSYP, will be studying for more Highers, an Advanced Higher and a National 5 in sixth year, with the hope of attending university, possibly to study politics.


Rosie Porter of Longforgan, near Dundee was celebrating achieving the highest grade in her Higher French exam when she received her results this morning.

Glenalmond College pupil Rosie achieved a band 1 grade in the modern language course.

Dr Michael Alderson, Head of Glenalmond, praised the efforts of Rosie and all of the other pupils at the school throughout the difficult past few months.

Rosie Porter is celebrating her exam success.

He said: “Glenalmond offers a unique opportunity for pupils to opt to take either Highers or A-Levels or combine both and we are delighted that our pupils have performed so well in their Highers, during this very different year for exam results.”

Steve Smith, Head of Sixth Form at the school added: “It is very rewarding to see how well our pupils have done and, despite the very difficult circumstances, we have some excellent exam results.

“Although they were not able to sit their final exams, these results are based on two years of hard work, including mock exams and coursework showing what they could do.”

An opportunity for change?

The change in the way pupils grades have been calculated has sparked widespread criticism after nearly 124,000 recommendations from teachers for this year’s exam results were downgraded.

But for some, the cancellation of exams and an increased focus on coursework could be an opportunity to introduce an alternative way of testing young people’s academic ability.

Reflecting on her past exam experiences, Catriona Paterson said: “I really struggled with maths at Nat 5 level and I just found it impossible.

“But I was improving throughout the year and slowly getting better with Bs and As but as soon as I got into that exam hall all I could think was this is the only mark that will matter.

“I ended up getting a C overall so I think if it was taken over the course of the year I would’ve done much better. That one final grade is not a true reflection of what we all do.”

Sam Watson, deputy rector and head of senior years at Dundee High School added: “What we have at the moment is this hybrid approach where pupils all have to complete modules and assignments which take a lot of learning time over the course of the year.

“But at the same time they are being asked to prepare for final exams, so there is almost two approaches.

“It would be really good to have a total review of the exam system to see how you can achieve the best results for young people.”

Perth & Kinross – The Courier