Most teachers lacking confidence on new exams

Survey found significant levels of disquiet among teachers about new qualifications. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Survey found significant levels of disquiet among teachers about new qualifications. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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FRESH concerns have been raised over Scotland’s new school exams after 60 per cent of teachers said in a poll that they were not confident of their ability to deliver the courses.

A survey carried out by the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) found significant levels of disquiet among members about the new qualifications, which pupils will sit for the first time this spring.

The National qualifications, which were brought in to replace Standard Grades and Intermediates, are part of the roll-out of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

The SSTA said around 1,500 members took part in the survey, with responses indicating an “alarming” lack of confidence in the new exams.

Around 60 per cent said they were “not confident” or “not confident at all” in their ability to deliver course material for the Nationals. Nearly 80 per cent gave the same responses when asked about their ability to assess pupils for the new qualifications. About 65,000 pupils in S4 are studying for the National 4 and National 5, with the first candidates due to sit the exams in April.

Alan McKenzie, SSTA acting general-secretary, said: “We continue to be alarmed by the clear lack of confidence expressed by our members, particularly in terms of the assessment materials for National 4 and 5.

“Eighty per cent of the respondents indicated that they were not confident in the ability to assess pupils in N4 and 5. Such alarming rates of lack of confidence must be acted upon.

“If a teacher lacks confidence then this will be quickly transferred to young people. Equally alarming, but with slightly less urgency, is the finding that nearly 78 per cent of respondents indicated no confidence in their ability to deliver course materials for new Higher qualifications and 86 per cent indicated their lack of confidence in assessment procedures for the new Higher.”

He added: “Throughout the implementation of CfE the SSTA has attempted to signal real concerns about progress. We have been careful about appearing alarmist and at all times wished to contribute positively to the successful outcome of this curricular initiative. There is still time to achieve this and it is for that reason we have decided to release an interim statement on this important survey”.

Last year, a survey by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country’s largest teaching union, found that more than half of teachers were “barely confident” of their school’s readiness to deliver the new exams.

The EIS had previously called for the introduction of the exams to be delayed by a year, a move already made by East Renfrewshire Council, home to some of Scotland’s best-performing state schools, but not adopted elsewhere. However, the idea of a delay was rejected by the Scottish Government.

The SSTA said more than 90 per cent of teachers were dissatisfied with the support offered by Education Scotland and Scottish Qualifications Authority.

An Education Scotland spokeswoman said: “Practitioners are working very hard and have made strong progress in preparing young people for the new qualifications. Education Scotland has provided a wide range of support. Our shared aim is to ensure the very best outcomes for our young people.”


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