Scottish Secondary - Please help. New National 4/5 how many will your council allow?

(299 Posts)
mustdash Fri 03-Jun-11 09:49:38

Sorry this is long, but please help if you can.

I expect you'll only know the answer to this if you are a secondary teacher, or have a child currently in S1 or P7. I'll ask anyway, in the hope of getting enough answers to get some idea about how screwed children in Angus are going to be, compared to the rest of Scotland, if not the whole UK.

I discovered yesterday that for the new CfE National 4/5s Angus are only going to permit 5 subjects. I believe that nationally councils are allowed to chose a number between 5 and 8, and that the number they chose will apply to all state schools in their burgh.

I am seriously concerned that if children in Angus can only chose 5 subjects they will be badly disadvantaged in the future career or education market, and feel that S3 is far too young to be narrowing down such serious choices.

My thoughts, still a little random and ill informed are these;-

- one of the main benefits of the "old' Scottish system was that having Highers before CSYS/Advanced Higher/A level was that it gave a broader education, and allowed children the opportunity to go into subjects in some depth before committing to final secondary year or uni. We are now asking children to make these choices 2 years earlier.

- if you chose a subject at the end of S3, and later discover you don't want to/aren't capable of taking it any further, you are already cutting down your Higher options. (Personal experience here, loved O grade Physics, hated hated Higher, and dropped it - fortunately I was lucky enough to be able to pick up a crash higher in another subject)

- academic children will be forced to drop arts subjects in S3, since they won't have the scope to do eg 3 sciences, and music/art.

- fewer children doing "minority" subjects like eg art or music will mean fewer teachers and resources...and that our children will face a narrow and restrictive curriculum - the opposite of what I thought CfE was supposed to achieve. hmm

- Angus council have apparently stated that 5 subjects is sufficient because
a) that's what all the other councils are doing hmm
and
b) five is the average number of standard/o grade type subject currently being sat by pupils at the end of S4. hmm

Though they clearly have no grasp of how averages work, and seem to think that it is acceptable to apply a lowest common denominator approach to the whole system, I can't believe it is the same everywhere.

Can you please tell me how many subjects your council will be allowing for the current S1/P7 children onwards?

Sorry this is so long, and thanks for reading this far! grin Any other random thoughts very welcome!

PurpleFrog Fri 03-Jun-11 12:02:48

Hmm... can't help you here. We recently attended a meeting at dd's schgool about choices for S2. They will be running a 20 period core syllabus and 10 periods where they have a choice over which "enrichment" cources they do. Someone asked about the number of subjects which will be taken for exams in S4 and the Rector said they didn't know yet but it would definitely be fewer than for Standard Grade. I will watch this thread with interest.

mustdash Fri 03-Jun-11 12:13:00

So if some haven't decided - or announced their decision yet - does that mean they have scope to change their minds?

Mainly at the mo worried that if DD has 5 National 5s and an equally bright DC at a school 3 miles away but in a different burgh can have 8, will Unis and employers believe the DC with 8 is the better candidate? Can't see how they wouldn't really.

PurpleFrog Fri 03-Jun-11 12:27:14

I must admit that this is the first time I have heard that councils can choose. I had assumed that it would be standard across Scotland.

However, I am a bit confused at you talking about different burghs making their own choices. Is it not done at the "unitary authority" level then?

haggisaggis Fri 03-Jun-11 12:59:56

Gawd - something else to worry about! Just moved to Angus with a ds due to start secondary in August. Know nothing about subject choice! In fact I find all info on curriculum for excellence extremely vague. Had a meeting this week at primary discussing format of the report cards - got the distinct impression teh head teacher really didn't have a clue about how it all worked.

mustdash Fri 03-Jun-11 13:54:43

Sorry Purplefrog, I may be getting confused with councils. I don't know what a "unitary authority" is, I spent too long in England.

I meant like Angus Council, Aberdeenshire, Highland, Clackmannan etc.

Where are you Haggis? My DD will be going to CHS. I also find the CfE info very vague, but really liked the new report cards. Sadly DD1s teacher didn't seem to get it, and all we got was a list of things she should have covered during the year, rather than the "3 stars and a wish" which was supposed to be there. DD3's report was brilliant, though, really informative, and insightful. DD2's was half way in between.

pointydog Fri 03-Jun-11 18:57:26

dahs, have you got any link to the fact that Angus are only offering 5 subjects for the Nationals? Anything publicly available, on their website for example?

I am surprised by this. I think it's an awful idea. Awful. I never saw it coming, if true.

igggi Fri 03-Jun-11 19:08:13

Am a teacher and I don't have a clue what we'll be offering. (If still in a job, if not out on strike etc). CFE could not have come at a worse time.
I would be surprised if 8 subjects were offered. The new senior phase from s4-6 I think will be half-way between S grades and Highers - so taking around 6 would seem right to me? Doing 8 subjects for just one year would be really diluted, I think.

pointydog Fri 03-Jun-11 19:24:50

igggi, explain it to me, could you?

National 4 will be internally marked and they provide a fallback for kids who are not able to get any Nat 5s. Is that right?

Nat 5s are sat in 4th year? Aren't they? I thought pupils followed Nat 5 courses in 3rd and 4th year, similar to the current standard grade. Is that not right? Therefore they would have the usual 2 years to cover course material for Nat 5s.

Where am I going wrong in my understanding?

pointydog Fri 03-Jun-11 19:25:37

How can Nat 5s be half way between S grade and Higher if there are no more S grades?

pointydog Fri 03-Jun-11 19:28:52

Right, I've found information.

A broad and general education from S1-3. And then down to 5 Nats. Jesus wept. Why not continue a broad general education until the exams in S4 and stick with 8 subjects for those able to cope.

This is pretty bad, messy stuff.

igggi Fri 03-Jun-11 19:32:42

I just mean in terms of course size/content/difficulty. They will not make choices until end of S3 so won't be following the courses in S3 and 4, no. Will have "broad general education" prior to start of S4.
Internal assessment is a nightmare for consistency, pressure to pass everyone etc.
While agreeing wholeheartedly with the principles of CFE, its implementation has been very strange. We have started teaching S1s without actually knowing what the format of the curriculum will be like when they are in S4. Info comes out in dribs and drabs.

igggi Fri 03-Jun-11 19:32:42

I just mean in terms of course size/content/difficulty. They will not make choices until end of S3 so won't be following the courses in S3 and 4, no. Will have "broad general education" prior to start of S4.
Internal assessment is a nightmare for consistency, pressure to pass everyone etc.
While agreeing wholeheartedly with the principles of CFE, its implementation has been very strange. We have started teaching S1s without actually knowing what the format of the curriculum will be like when they are in S4. Info comes out in dribs and drabs.

Fuctifano Fri 03-Jun-11 21:13:43

Igggi, dribs and drabs how true! And Secondary teachers were being obtuse. Building the curriculum is fine but if we've had to implement it unfinished not sure if I'm more scared as a parent or professional.

igggi Fri 03-Jun-11 22:03:01

..Unfinished, with dwindling budgets, staffing cuts and subject specialism eroded. What a great time for a major overhaul.

igggi Fri 03-Jun-11 22:03:02

..Unfinished, with dwindling budgets, staffing cuts and subject specialism eroded. What a great time for a major overhaul.

igggi Fri 03-Jun-11 22:04:25

Apologies for double-posting mobile madness.

igggi Fri 03-Jun-11 22:04:26

Apologies for double-posting mobile madness.

AngusOg Sat 04-Jun-11 01:50:27

Sorry to say this, but it is a relief that parents seem to be finally catching on to why teachers have been complaining about CfE and the dumbing down of education. What do you think your children's chances of getting into a decent Russell Group uni will be in the future?

neepsntatties Sat 04-Jun-11 02:24:17

Cfe is a nightmare. Education is a nightmare just now actually. I have recently become quite fearful about the future. If Cfe doesn't do us in then Cosla will.

pointydog Sat 04-Jun-11 09:51:51

When was it decided that S1-3 was to be broad education and that the Nationals were not to be an 8-course replacement to S Grade?

How did I miss this? And when will parents be told, I wonder?

igggi Sun 05-Jun-11 09:29:45

I think the S1-3 thing has always been part of CFE. Dropping numbers of subjects in S4 doesn't seem as bad as in S3, though I'd prefer around 6 or 7 to 5.
It will obviously cause issues with university entrance. So, if a bright student starts Higher in S4 and does it over two years, will the unis coun that? (Sometimes they want all relevant qualifications to be sat in one session). But universities shouldn't be dictating qualifications to schools.
Neepsntatties, dark days indeed.

mustdash Sun 05-Jun-11 09:48:10

I'd be happy with 6 or 7 (pref 7) but 5 is just dangerous imo. Sadly I think the universities have dictated qualifications for a very long time.

pointydog Sun 05-Jun-11 09:49:25

If it's always been part of CfE it has never been communicated to parents.

It's the vagueness and the planning-it-all-on-the-hop that really gets to me.

pointydog Sun 05-Jun-11 09:51:49

Everyone dicatates to schools nowadays. That's been going on for a long time.

Employers say this should happen, unis say that should happen, government says this should happen, LAs say that should happen, health organisations say this should happen and so on and so on.

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