TEACHERS have called for an exam to be introduced to restore the reputation of a controversial qualification which is being shunned by schools.

A report by examiners found that - while pupils felt motivated by National 4 courses and worked hard - a “clear majority” of teachers and headteachers wanted reform.

The report, by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) said: “Teachers commented about the need for an examination to motivate learners.”

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The SQA report comes after a sharp decline in the number of pupils sitting National 4 qualifications, which were originally devised for those going on to college courses, employment or further training.

When they were introduced in 2014 as part of the scrapping of Standard Grade the SQA said they would be seen as the equal of other qualifications.

However, teachers and parents have warned the qualification had led to groups of pupils viewing themselves as “second class citizens” because there is no final exam.

And teachers have also felt under pressure to push pupils towards the more advanced National 5 qualification, which does have an external exam.

The report by the SQA, which followed visits to nearly 40 schools, also highlighted calls for changes to the grades pupils can achieve in National 4 courses, which currently have either a pass or fail.

It states: “It seemed incongruous to a number of staff that learners who put in considerable effort and achieved well and those who make the minimum effort both received a pass for the same National 4 qualification.”

The report highlighted the poor reputation of National 4 compared to other qualifications such as National 5 with some parents describing it as “stigmatised”.

It said: “There was clear staff unease in many schools about pressure often from parents ... or from senior management teams or local authorities to present learners at National 5 rather than National 4.”

Despite the concerns the report highlighted the lack of consensus over what improvements should be made.

It added: “The views on the approach to assessment varied across the country, within local authorities and also within individual centres.”

National 4 is currently the subject of a review, but no changes are likely for at least two years.

Figures published this summer showed there has been an 11 per cent decline in interest in the qualification since 2015, with entries dropping from more than 130,000 to just over 116,000.