Parents demanding more exams for their children

Parents feel that the system is disadvantaging students. Picture: PA

Parents feel that the system is disadvantaging students. Picture: PA

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PARENTS have launched a campaign group calling for change to a controversial Higher exam system at a school in Argyll and Bute.

The row has broken out at Hermitage Academy in Helensburgh, where many believe the current arrangement is putting pupils’ futures at risk.

At present, none of the pupils sit exams in their fourth year, instead they spend two years studying towards their Highers instead. School officials believe this offers the students a better chance of success.

However, parents feel that the opposite is true and the system is disadvantaging students, with more failing exams or leaving school with no qualifications.

National 4 and 5 qualifications replaced Standard Grades across Scotland two years ago.

In other Scottish schools, students spend S4 studying for National 5 qualifications, while others do a mix of National 4 and 5 qualifications.

Pupils with National 5s can then go on to study for their Highers. However, at Hermitage Academy, all students at the end of S3 choose the six subjects they will eventually take for Highers. The risk in having no exams in S4 is that if a candidate fails, they end up with no qualification at all.

Hundreds of Helensburgh parents have now joined the campaign group, named Parents for Change.

Spokesman Kevin Middleton has raised concerns that pupils may not do well in their Highers if it was their first experience of an exam and therefore sitting S4 exams could prove useful.

He said: “We feel as though we have been forced to take this into our own hands. This is for the wellbeing of our children.”

A spokesman for Argyll and Bute Council said the school had originally developed its model in consultation with parents, but acknowledged there were concerns – a review is now set to take place and be completed by the end of November.

He said: “As we progress with the review of Hermitage Academy’s curricular model, parents, pupils, staff and members will be involved.

“In the meantime, should any parent have a specific concern they wish to discuss regarding their child’s progress, we would encourage them to make contact with the school to discuss the position and the supports in place.”

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