Analysis: Courses still need a lot more preparation
THE Nationals are a two-tier skills-based examination which is due to replace Standard Grades as part of the move towards the skills-based approach of Curriculum for Excellence.
Currently, most young people sit the general level of the Standard Grade Exam and many leave school with a mix of General and Intermediate qualifications. In future these pupils will sit the N4 internal assessment and leave school with no external verification of their educational standard, at the mercy of employers who choose (or choose not) to accept the value of their internal grades.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority is currently working on the development of the new National exams which will contain an “added value” element. These aim to reflect “the importance of breadth, challenge and application in deciding whether a learner has achieved a level within the outcomes and experiences of the broad general education”.
I believe that statement explains exactly why we do not yet have any clear guidelines to develop into courses for pupils currently finishing second year. SQA has produced initial guidance, but there’s a huge amount of work to do before these courses are fit for purpose.
Teachers are becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of detailed assessment information to work on.
In his letter to local authorities, the chief executive of Education Scotland stated this week that all pupils should undertake a broad education until the end of third year, with no focus on exam subjects or even course choice. This reduces the options choices for pupils entering fourth year from the current eight courses to a maximum of five, further reducing their options at Higher level.
Pupils are the most important element of this convoluted jigsaw and they only have one chance at secondary education.
Any delay in implementation of this phase of CfE has to be decided immediately.
It would be unfair to expect pupils to undertake a third year of general education and a new S4 of skills based learning then take a knowledge based exam like the current standard grade.
• Ann Ballinger is general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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