Analysis: We’re right to be ambitious for children

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THESE results are really positive and show the continued progress that is being made and the ability of our pupils.

It’s a good thing the pass rate is going up – it shows teachers are improving in their ability to prepare children, the pupils themselves are becoming more able and parents are becoming more involved in getting children ready for the exams.

I don’t agree that exams are getting easier. If children don’t pass their National Assessments (during term), they don’t get to sit the exam.

Schools are simply getting better at knowing who to present for the exams and making sure they are better prepared. What’s the point of presenting a child knowing they are going to fail? You should be pretty confident of a child’s ability beforehand. If you’re not, they shouldn’t be sitting the exam. That’s not devaluing the exam system – it’s getting it right. We are doing our young people a disservice by saying exams are getting easier.

In terms of the subjects that have seen their pass rate fall, those in charge of science and maths will have to go away and look at what the trends are saying. It’s something they will have to collect information on and that’s something I am sure the Scottish Qualifications Authority will do.

While the changes being made to the exam system as a result of Curriculum for Excellence do not immediately affect the Highers, universities started planning last year for when the new Higher comes into force in 2014-15. I think they’re well prepared and will welcome the changes, because they’re about children being independent learners who take ownership of their own learning, which is an important part of life at university.

But it’s not just about university. Children often have very realistic expectations and due to the way they communicate and with the advent of social media, they are aware of the state of the economy and the job market. They are much more engaged than in the past.

Nothing is perfect in education. We should never stop evolving and changing. Teaching is highly complex and the teaching profession should always be looking for ways to improve. In general, however, the Scottish education system remains robust and is progressing well. The new curriculum offers teachers lots of challenges, but I think we are right to be ambitious.

• Moyra Boland is director of learning and teaching at Glasgow University’s School of Education.