The Herald headline and to a lesser extent that on BBC Scotland, this morning, is misleading. See these tables from the report in question:
The headline story is that a very high number of Scottish pupils are leaving with qualifications and that in almost every case above, the trend is still upward in 2019. Look at the last three rows! In every case the rate has risen significantly from 2016 and in one or two cases, it is down but insignificantly, by less than 1% from 2018.
There have been small (2-3%) but significant falls in the pass rates for English and Mathematics Higher but at the same time comparable increases in Science and in Mathematics, N5.
Statisticians, will of course, tell you that a one-year change is not a meaningful trend. Only when you look at a change over 3 to 5 years do you see anything worth talking about.
Finally, it is both insulting and erroneous to discount the successes in subjects other than English and Mathematics. Many of these develop communication and mathematical skills in a more real context often more useful to employers than the more abstract ways, useful only for further study in higher education, favoured by these two ‘core’ subjects. In addition, the Scottish economy and society requires far more broadly-educated citizens than an obsession with English and Mathematics can offer.