A CONTROVERSIAL school exam which has failed to attract interest from pupils should be replaced with a Scottish Graduation Certificate, politicians have said.

The Labour Party said the Scottish Baccalaureate should be replaced after another disappointing year with just 140 pupils signing up.

Baccalaureates were launched in 2009 with the SNP claiming they would develop deeper learning and critical thinking skills and promote important subjects.

Originally developed in languages and sciences, the initiative was expanded in 2012 to include two new baccalaureates in expressive arts and social sciences.

However, only three pupils sat a baccalaureate in expressive arts in 2014 compared to five in 2013. There were only 15 entries for the social sciences qualification.

Under Labour’s plans, the Scottish Graduation Certificate would be a qualification gained at the senior phase of secondary school and would involve vocational courses, work experience, voluntary achievement and traditional exams.

Iain Gray, Scottish Labour's education spokesman, said: “Every young person should be able to achieve the qualifications to get on to college or university and all of the opportunities that brings.

"With falling pass rates for this year’s new Highers coupled with falling attainment of the Scottish Baccalaureate it is now time for Education Secretary John Swinney to seriously consider reforming the senior phase of high school and introducing a Scottish Graduation Certificate.

"This certificate would be a useful qualification for young people applying to college, university or to a potential employer."

Labour has also repeated its call for exam appeal charges to be scrapped, with the system currently favouring private school pupils.

Figures published in January showed pupils from private schools were three times more likely than those in the state sector to appeal exam results prompting accusations of unfairness.

Official figures show six per cent of pupils from the independent sector appealed their exam results last year compared to just two per cent from comprehensive schools.

The issue has proved controversial because the Scottish Qualifications Authority now charges for its post results review service - with costs ranging from £10 to check if marks have been added up correctly to £39.75 for a full review.