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.

AngusOg Sun 05-Jun-11 10:09:14

"universities shouldn't be dictating qualifications to schools"

They don't. But they do - and rightly so - have exam requirements for entry which show the prospective undergraduate has reached a sufficient, rigorous academic standard and has the intellect to cope with the course applied for. It is no skin off a university's nose which part of the globe their students hail from.

I have never seen anything as vacuous as the proposals for CfE - there is absolutely no indication of academic rigour: no summative assessment grades, no expectation of what an average pupil should be achieving, nothing. Merely a collection of subjective 'I can' statements that can only vary in the bar for success from school to school. It reads as an attempt to completely dumb down the young of a country. It is not a curriculum, it is a wish-list.

Did you happen to read the recent, leaked submission paper to McCormack from COSLA? It contains this gem:

Indeed, we would even suggest that the primary role for a teacher should not be to teach children but should be articulated in terms of ensuring the development, well being, and safety of children.

No teacher would disagree that the well-being of children is important, but the primary purpose of a teacher, at any level, is to educate and develop the intellectual capacity of the pupils in their care.

This CfE programme seems to have had its genesis in Australia. It was re-thought very quickly indeed. once it was seen for the fur coat and no knickers mess it was.

One can only hope.

pointydog Sun 05-Jun-11 10:18:28

Angus, I agree with you. And yes, I have read the CoSLA submission.

Unfortunately, the voices that say that the role of education is to educate in an intellectual and academic sense are completely drowned out these days.

AngusOg Sun 05-Jun-11 10:24:31

Frightening, isn't it!

Scotland used to be famous for its education system and the disproportionate numbers of clever people in whatever field the rigorous system it had produced. That's seemingly a claim of the past now and CfE won't bring it back any time soon...

...Unless parents wise up quickly to what is being fobbed on their children by bean counters.

kiery Sun 05-Jun-11 10:51:55

Hi there,

i have a year till my dd1 starts secondary school but this makes for interesting reading.

Does anyone know what is happening to the Highers; are they being replaced then too? Will they still be a one year course?

In the 90's when I went to Edinburgh Uni it was the highers which got you in and not the standard/o grades. I was in the middle of another change over and had a mixture of standard and o grades and remember the teachers moaning/complaining again then.

Obviously you need to pass the standard grades (or equivalent) to get on to most higher grade courses.

Every profession has to adapt though; whether its getting to grips with new treatment methods, regulations, ideologies or discovering a new strain of e.coli. When it concerns the future aspirations of our children it is an emotive subject.

I think most universities would rather have overseas students (especially outside the EU) as they pay more though.

I don't think that going to university is for everyone though and I think that if your child has got the potential they will get there.

pointydog Sun 05-Jun-11 11:14:54

The trouble is, angus, parents haven't a clue what's going on. No one at the high schools is telling them. My dds' high school has told us nothing about the Nationals, nothing about Highers now being a two year course, nothing about only 5 subjects at 4th year.

It is the schools that need to be brave now and make it clear just where this is all going.

pointydog Sun 05-Jun-11 11:16:06

Kiery, highers will just be 'tinkered with' apparently but the big thing is that it will be a two year course, not one year. This is a huge change and no parent has actually been told this.

It is so rubbish, it really is.

AngusOg Sun 05-Jun-11 11:55:08

parents haven't a clue what's going on

Totally agree. Some teachers have been trying to explain why this programme is poorly thought out and what the potential pitfalls are. However, when they do, they are dismissed as moaning / complaining again instead of being seen as professionals whose experiece of education goes beyond that of being a pupil and who just might have something to say that is worth listening to. However, it seems it is the enthusiast for CfE who grab the headlines.

The Highers have an interesting future role and it remains to be seen how the revised versions will be viewed by universities. At the other end of the scale is National 4 (Foundation SG) which will be internally assessed by the school. Who would you take on as an apprentice - the kid with a few foundation level GCSEs, assessed by an exam board against national criteria or the kid with a National 4 certificate, internally assessed from school, stating they can do this, that and the other?

Hopefully, this thread might be picked up by a Scottish media journalist and some constructive public discourse will ensue.

ithaka Sun 05-Jun-11 12:01:28

It is very worrying for parent's whose children are going to be the 'experimental' year - not mine, thank goodness. There is very little information available, most parents I speak to support the teachers' concerns and wanted the implementation delayed. It does not help that it has coincided with all these public sector cuts. It all feels a bit 'Edinburgh tram project' to me.

igggi Sun 05-Jun-11 13:14:29

Kiery, I'm liking the CFE/e coli comparison!
Difference is, when other professionals get to grips with new treatment methods etc it is surely to bring improvements.
Everything happening in Scottish Education at the moment just comes down to money.

mustdash Sun 05-Jun-11 19:57:13

kiery I'm fairly sure you didn't sit Highers in all the subjects you sat O'grades/standards in. That is really my point.

eg we were allowed 7 o'grades (8 if the 8th was art) and 5 highers (6 is the 6th was a third science, done as a crash, but started in 4th yr). We were then allowed 3 or 4 CSYS/A levels, and/or a couple of either additional crash Highers, or picking something back up you'd done at O but hadn't done a Higher in in 5th year.

That way, a broad education was guaranteed, and you could get whatever you needed to get into the uni of your choice. If you changed your mind from teaching to medicine or law or whatever in 5th year, it wasn't insurmountable. If we ask our S3s to make 5 choices, which will leave them with no flexibility, they are stuck on one path, or doomed to fall off it, and fail. The current and next intake of S1s are being used as guinea pigs in an assessment system which no one seems to believe in.

Angus I completely agree when you say that teachers have been dismissed as moaning and complaining again. I'm afraid that is all I have heard, because as far as I have seen, the anti CfE writing has been about the effect it will have on the teachers, and them saying they just haven't had time to prepare for it. I'm not saying that is the truth, but it is all I have seen, and please, please don't think I am not supportive of them in that. Really the focus needs to move to the effect this is going to have on the children - which as far as I have seen so far, has been missed. I think that is the only way you will get more support from parents, and the broader public.

I also read online a letter in the Scotsman from a Chemistry teacher, saying that the only way to get in the 160 hours teaching required, is going to be to start at the beginning of S3. Obviously that was just his opinion, but that would in effect mean choosing options at the end of S2, wouldn't it?

Anyway, one thing I still really don't know, is if the 5 subjects is written in stone anywhere, and published, or if it is just in the COSLA document you mention. Is that available to the public? Do parents need to start badgering their MSPs for answers? Is there anywhere that has said they aim to offer 6, 7 or 8?

If it is all down to money, someone needs to point out to the Dept of Ed (or whatever it is called) that if our children are leaving school without an education, the whole country is down the pan. Mind you, if none of them can get in to uni, then the unis could be filled with overseas and English students, which might make them more money. <<getting increasingly cross bitter and worried emoticon>>.

wine o'clock I think.

pointydog Sun 05-Jun-11 20:02:21

dash, I found something earlier on, on the SQA website. I think it was under the Q&A section. The SQA is not recommending a number of National 5s to sit. No one, in fact, is saying how many National 5s to sit.

It is up to each individual school, according to the SQA. It will be interesting to see what they all decide over the next few months.

pointydog Sun 05-Jun-11 20:02:58

So you need to badger your school and LA if they are the ones making that decision.

pointydog Sun 05-Jun-11 20:04:38

Also, one of the key concepts of CfE is personalisation. Each child being able to achieve their best.

To say that the average student gets 5 or 6 S Grades so we are only offering 5 Nats seems the very opposite of personalisation. It seems to discriminate against the academically able.

AngusOg Sun 05-Jun-11 21:36:58

I completely agree when you say that teachers have been dismissed as moaning and complaining again. I'm afraid that is all I have heard, because as far as I have seen, the anti CfE writing has been about the effect it will have on the teachers, and them saying they just haven't had time to prepare for it.

Oh I totally agree with you about what has been reported so far. The SSTA union has been trying to get a wider discussion going, particularly about how this all affects children's secondary education as they are a union representing secondary teachers. The SSTA were eventually refused participation in the negotations, leaving the EIS and NASWUT at the discussion table. It appears secondary teachers are now leaving the EIS in droves.

but it is all I have seen

Doesn't this say a lot about the media in Scotland - a massive change that affects all children in state schools and no discussion. What happened to investigative journalism?

I think that is the only way you will get more support from parents, and the broader public.

Agree, but it is quite hard to speak out against this, without being seen as some kind of dinosaur against progress instead of someone with the kind of experience and length of teaching service that might be the basis of a solid counter-argument to some aspects of a CfE. Yes, change the curriculum by all means, but have a curriculum - as the word is generally understood in education at all levels in all countries - to take its place.

I also read online a letter in the Scotsman from a Chemistry teacher, saying that the only way to get in the 160 hours teaching required, is going to be to start at the beginning of S3. Obviously that was just his opinion, but that would in effect mean choosing options at the end of S2, wouldn't it?

That's what they do already, options are taken at the end of S2. I think the point he might have been making was that if S3 becomes a further extension of generalist education in S1 - S2, instead of the beginning of more specialist courses leading to exams, there will not be enough time to cover a course that would lead to a national exam equal to SG. Therefore, the base work time for understanding the subject enough to study it at Higher is lost.

Anyway, one thing I still really don't know, is if the 5 subjects is written in stone anywhere, and published, or if it is just in the COSLA document you mention. Is that available to the public? Do parents need to start badgering their MSPs for answers? Is there anywhere that has said they aim to offer 6, 7 or 8?

The COSLA document is here:

www.ssta.org.uk/pdf/Coslaresponse.pdf

If it is all down to money, someone needs to point out to the Dept of Ed (or whatever it is called) that if our children are leaving school without an education, the whole country is down the pan.

It would seem it is. S1 - S3 class sizes are on the increase and it looks like the children of Scotland are to be denied the kind of education that was once the envy of much of the world. I don't think it was our children who invested in the Icelandic banks, if I recall correctly?

<<getting increasingly cross bitter and worried emoticon>>.

That's one we need!

wine o'clock I think.

Mind if I join you?

Annunziata Sun 05-Jun-11 21:37:14

I am glad to find this, we have had no information whatsoever from the school. DD2 is in S1, just about to start S2 and if we compare the work of the previous 4DC to the CfE, it is ridiculous - all "group work" and poster making!

I am very worried about this 5 Nationals thing. So what a child chooses to study at 12/13 defines the rest of their lives? Also, If National 4 is equivalent to Foundation, is Nat 5 equal to General? What happens to Credit levels?

mustdash Sun 05-Jun-11 22:46:47

My dear dear FIL is a former secretary of the SSTA. He's very retired now, so I'm sure won't be into any of this, but he might know who I could talk to.

This really is rubbish.

Angus, I'm almost at the bottom of the bottle now (DH helped honest), there is a drop or two if you'd like though. A Portuguese red - surprisingly nice@

AngusOg Sun 05-Jun-11 23:00:17

Annunziata What happens to Credit levels?

My understanding is that they are absorbed into National 5. These new exams are still in the planning stage, so not a lot of information available as yet.

Mustdash My dear dear FIL is a former secretary of the SSTA. He's very retired now, so I'm sure won't be into any of this, but he might know who I could talk to.

Ooh, that will be an interesting conversation and I bet your FIL knows a lot about the current situation! Would you mind posting the gist of it later? I really would like to know his views.

OP I am sorry for hijacking your thread a bit today but I hope you can forgive me. I'll just go an hoover up Mustdash's leftover drops of wine wink

ithaka Mon 06-Jun-11 08:12:02

In fairness to teachers, I do remember the EIS warning we would create a 'sacrifice' generation if the implementation of CfE went ahead before the details were finalised, so they really were trying to communicate their concern for their pupils, however no one wanted to listen.

neepsntatties Mon 06-Jun-11 10:22:57

I just left the EIS for the SSTA, I think a lot of teachers are doing the same.

haggisaggis Mon 06-Jun-11 13:00:17

It does all seem so wishy washy. I have a severely dyslexic dd (still at primary). When I ask how she compares to her peers so I can get some idea about how far behind she is, all I get is "we teach to the individual". What help will that be when she tries to get employment on leaving school? As an employer I am afraid I look at qualifications - not whether an individual has achieved their personal targets.
Secondary information is rubbish. I pity the poor teachers who have to persuade us parents that it's all a really good idea.

Annunziata Mon 06-Jun-11 14:30:14

Thank you, Angus. I phoned the school this morning and was told that they should have more information "this time next year" which I suppose is better than nothing but really not good enough- why implement a new curriculum without fully developing the exams for it?!

This is all so worrying, especially when you hear about less and less uni places.

Madsometimes Mon 06-Jun-11 15:22:10

English MNer here. I have been lurking on your thread because I am a great admirer of the Scottish system. You seem to get education right from flexible start dates at school through to free university.

I think I must have misunderstood because posters are saying that students are going to study only 5 subjects from age 14. I have always admired the breadth of the Scottish system, and am pleased that in England our system has incorporated this in the past few years. When I was a girl people only studied 8 GCSEs, whereas now it is common to take 10.

I hope you all get the answers you need. Children in their mid teens should not be expected to specialise. It is far too young. I wonder how many teachers were consulted before introducing this new curriculum? How can maths, English, science, languages, humanities and arts be squeezed into five choices?

PurpleFrog Mon 06-Jun-11 16:46:27

Madsometimes - if I hadn't taken advantage of "flexible start dates at school" my dd would now be in S2 and I would not be watching this thread! Grrr!

To be fair, children will follow a broad curriculum for a year longer than before, but it looks like the number of subjects studied will then be cut more drastically.

One thing we were told by our rector was that programs would be very individual for each child and they could be studying for different levels of exam in different subjects. For example, a very able child could do some highers in S4 along with National 5s.

I have no idea what this will mean for University entry. I do hope they will look at the total selection of qualifications gained and not which year they were obtained in.

pointydog Mon 06-Jun-11 16:58:19

Annunziata and others, parents need to be phoning schools now and requesting an open meeting with the management team to disucss CfE and the new exams. Otherwise parents will be fobbed off until August 2012 and that is when everything will be finalised.

Waiting until summer 2012 is far too long. Nothing can be altered at that late date.

pointydog Mon 06-Jun-11 17:01:38

Here is the SQA web page - called Mythbusters, I love the irony - and it clearly says under the section about How many subjects Will be Taken for Nationals, that schools will decide in consultation with parents how many subjects will be offered.

Get agitating. Especially if Angus Council seem to have already decided.

pointydog Mon 06-Jun-11 17:02:32

'Number of Subjects Available to S4 Pupils' Please read!

ecogan Mon 06-Jun-11 17:15:14

Lots of aspects of CfE are really good. Unfortunately the assessment and course choice elements aren't in that category. The worst of comes under the 'unforseen consequences' category which will see the number of subjects reduced to 5 because the time of the course has been reduced from 2 years to 1 year. That means maths, english and 3 other subjects and the option to choose from a maximum of 5 at higher. if you go straight to higher over 2 years the qualifications gained count for less in University applications. It also means kids will be sitting their first ever exam at higher, dealing with that stress and worries about what happens if they fail all together. Apparently everyone (apart from the SSTA) is really happy about the way the new curriculum will operate. I'm glad my kids are passed that stage and my granddaughter will be a long time reaching it.
There is NO rule about the number of subjects to be taken so if your local school decides to start in S3 then pupils could do 8 subjects and a general education too.

pointydog Mon 06-Jun-11 17:19:09

When was it decided that it had to be a broad education for three full years?

darleneoconnor Mon 06-Jun-11 18:08:48

On a link from that sqa site it looks as if there will be A LOT of variation between schools as to subject number/choice. Are Angus schools aiming low because some of their schools are notorious for low levels of academic achievement?

PurpleFrog Mon 06-Jun-11 18:42:15

They have just reported on some of this on Reporting Scotland tonight - the fact that there is a shake up to exams and that 2 year higher courses will be possible in future. They also wondered how Universities will look at this....

AngusOg Mon 06-Jun-11 18:44:45

They have just reported on some of this on Reporting Scotland tonight - the fact that there is a shake up to exams and that 2 year higher courses will be possible in future. They also wondered how Universities will look at this....

LOL! Should we bill them for doing their job for them? seriously, that is good they finally said something - maybe we will get the debate on this that should have happened a year or so ago.

pointydog Mon 06-Jun-11 19:26:26

I saw that. Shame they didn't pick up on the fact that councils seem to be going for 5 subjects only.

PurpleFrog Mon 06-Jun-11 19:27:02

Does anyone remember the last time the Scottish exam system was changed? Didn't some schools decide nearer the time that there was no way that they could develop the new courses in time, so they ended up running both exam systems side-by-side for a year? Can any secondary teachers confirm this?

I have a horror that something similar will happen this time, but it will be impossible for dd's school to fall back to the Standard Grade syllabus in the time available.....

Annunziata Mon 06-Jun-11 19:50:19

(disclaimer: not a teacher!)

Do you mean O-levels to Highers in the 80s/90s, Purple Frog? Took about ten years if I remember correctly!

I too am dreading this.

pointydog Mon 06-Jun-11 19:53:15

O gRades to Standard Grades probably. But I had no experience of that

Fuctifano Mon 06-Jun-11 20:44:11

Some pilot schools ran some of standard grades in 1989, then English, Maths and some practical subjects rolled out nationwide in 1990 - the year I sat. All subjects were Standard Grade by 1991, the year that Highers were revised ,yep my year! So I had a combination of Standard Grades and O Grades, traditional and Revised Highers. As the product of a time of transition in education I worry for my DDs, Standard Grade was launched as "certification for all" and this was jumped upon as "having a certificate to say you are stupid".

pointydog Mon 06-Jun-11 20:55:24

This is one of the t hings I don't get. Standard grades were formed in such a way that the less academic students still left with recognised qualifications. And students currently have the opportunity to repeat highers in 6th year, thus taking two years to achieve them.

So what does CfE offer that is better in terms of qualifications?

The less academic students will leave with internally marked course work and maybe an exam (I dunno though). The Nat 4s.
Some students will do better and get an externally marked Nat 5 in possibly a maximum of 5 subjects and a lot of it will be (probably) internally marked course work. Not sure how that's preferable to the status quo.
The academic ones will narrow down to five or six subjects in 4th year and take two years to sit highers. Will they be tougher exams to take account of the two year lead-in? Will unis want more than 5? We don't know.

It is all very unclear.

pointydog Mon 06-Jun-11 20:56:52

At the moment, I cannot see how this benefits the least academic students and the most academic. It all seems very middling.

Jacaqueen Mon 06-Jun-11 22:19:14

My son is about to start S3 so will thankfully still sit Standard Grades at the end of S4.

I am on the Parent Council and the Rector has been discussing CofE with us for the past year. He has held meetings with the parents/students about to start in S1 and those about to begin S2.

As I understand it (which may be wrong):

Our students will make certain choices at the end of S1! They will study up to 8 subjects over 2 years. They will then be able to take up to 6 Highers starting in S4. If universaties continue to insist on Highers being taken in one year, this will be re-addressed.

pointydog Mon 06-Jun-11 22:39:58

And are any parents concerned about this?

Can I ask your LA, jaca?

pointydog Mon 06-Jun-11 22:41:11

Although what really matters is, are any S1 parents concerned about this because let's face it, parents of S2 and above really couldn't care that much so their opinion shouldn't count for nearly as much.

mustdash Mon 06-Jun-11 23:07:36

I've asked the school DD1 will be starting, what their plans are, in case it is not a council wide decision, but a school one. I can't see how the "joint" decision some have mentioned, could work in practise, unless it is a "if they are likely to achieve x,y, or z, they can sit a,b, or c number of assessments. I have asked for a response before the new parents meeting next week, so it will be interesting to see if they bother.

I'm concerned that schools might think that parents would believe they could be in any sort of retrospective conversation with universities about what grades, and what time frame they might find acceptable. The Unis hold all the cards here surely?

I saw on the Parent Councils group website that they thought people were less concerned about CfE for Primary than Secondary. I have to admit, so far, I am very happy with the changes CfE has brought to my DCs primary, but to think that all the changes could be considered as one is surely missing the point.

I missed the piece on Reporting Scotland, but will see if it is on IPlayer tomorrow.

Another bottle of red bites the dust.....

Jacaqueen Tue 07-Jun-11 08:18:05

I am not sure if the majority of parents are informed enough to realise the potentential ramifications of this change.

Personally I am horrified as I do have younger children who will be going through the new system eventually.

My eldest child had enough problems making choices in S2. Having said that they will have to take one Modern Langauge, at least one science and one social science for 3 years. At the moment they can drop a language after 2.

I am uneasy to say the least about this attitude of just lets wait and see how the universaties react to the change. The thought that a child could leave after S4 with no formal qualifactions takes us back to pre war times.

Our school will have exams in S3 and S4 to prepare the students for Highers.

I am in Falkirk area. As far as I am aware it is up to each school to decide how they wish to proceed. Our Head appears to be on the ball and has consulted and taken on board the concerns given by the Parent Council.

kiery Tue 07-Jun-11 10:00:07

I live in Angus and there has been meetings about the Curriculum for Excellence as my husband has been to them. I think the problem lies in the fact that they haven't finalised what will be acutally happening at secondary school level.

Both my dd are in Primary school at the moment and I'm quite happy with the Curriculum for Excellence in the primary school they attend.

mustdash: Its interesting to read your experience; At my secondary school, in Angus in the 90's, I sat only 7 standard/o grades (A mixture as it was during the change over) and went on to sit the subsequent 5 highers (no crash courses; we were only allowed to do this with Biology). The most CSYS anyone sat was 3 and that was rare. I sat 2.

That year, a lot of pupils went on to University a fair number to the sought after professions too.

mustdash Tue 07-Jun-11 11:31:08

Kiery, perhaps your husband could be so kind as to confirm if what I have heard is actually true. Is Angus limiting the number of National 4/5s which the children will study from S3 to 5. Is there a blanket figure for Angus, or is each school choosing their own, or is there even flexibility within that.

I too, have few concerns about CfE in Primary, and I think have said that. I believe it brings many many positive things to Primary education in general, and the early years at Secondary.

My concern is for the limitations being imposed on the breadth of choice available to the children from S3, and assessment.

mustdash Tue 07-Jun-11 11:47:12

OK, so I've just watched last night's piece on Reporting Scotland on the I-Player. From that I think anyone not paying attention to it could easily come away with the impression that the new Higher, over 2 years might be sat in S6.

It almost looks like S4 assessment just ceases to exist. I'm not at all sure where this would leave the less academically able children. Never mind those children not yet able to be confident in their future uni or employment choices post S6.

I really can't decide whether to just calm down, back off and go with the flow, or pursue this madness.

kiery Tue 07-Jun-11 13:06:11

Yes you are right. Angus council stated that 5 subjects would be chosen at the end of S3.

Highers were not mentioned.

They also said that language, numeracy and health and well being (?) were going to be the priority.

We, perhaps naively, assumed that this was blanket over all of Scotland.

If it does pan out like that then perhaps my dds will have time to become muscial or sport prodigies in all their spare time as they will only be doing 5 subjects; at least it will stand them in good stead for their UCAS forms (if they still exist by then!)

PurpleFrog Tue 07-Jun-11 13:24:41

mustdash - I know what you mean. I can't decide whether to just sit back and wait and see what happens, or panic and pull dd out of her current school and pack her off to the local independent! Well... that is a slight exaggeration, but I keep yo-yoing somewhere between these two extremes. confused

To make matters worse, dd's dream is to be a vet - a course which is already very difficult to get into. I don't want her to be disadvantaged because she was a guinea pig for the new CfE exams.

But then, realistically, she has only had 1 year of secondary school. She may yet decide she could not face doing any more Chemistry after S3, or develop a previously unrecognised passion for Ancient History! grin

mustdash Tue 07-Jun-11 14:30:49

Yup, DD1 is torn between playing in the Black Dyke Band, being a vet, or being a writer. grin I love it that she has such a broad range of interests (though think it's fairly typical for that age), and would of course support whatever necessary outside school time. Many parents couldn't or wouldn't though.

If all councils were committed to going with 5, it might be less of an issue for me. If there is scope to go as far as 8, some undoubtedly will, and those educated in areas like Angus who have allowed 5 will surely be disadvantaged.

Perhaps by the time she is in S6 though, all universities may be like AC Graylings new uni, and we'll just have to write a cheque. I hope not.

Still no response from the school, though in fairness it has only been one day...

wigglybeezer Tue 07-Jun-11 16:08:38

I have just read loads of info on various websites, including examples from real schools, laying out their plans, the impression I got was that schools will be offerring four or five subject choices, NOT including maths and English. Are you sure this isn't what Angus are doing?

Ps. I couldn't find out what Perth and Kinross ,where DS1 is just finishing S1, are doing.

Wish I hadn't read this thread before going to bed last night!

pointydog Tue 07-Jun-11 19:09:37

I have just read an Angus Council powerpoint but cannot link.

They specifically say that course choice will go down to 5 or 6 subjects in S4 as opposed to 7 or 8. Couldn't be clearer. Maths and English are not additional to the 5/6.

darleneoconnor Tue 07-Jun-11 20:37:22

Does anyone know what the private schools are doing?

pointydog Tue 07-Jun-11 21:29:54

One of the Edinburgh ones is embracing CfE. Can't remember which one now. Last time I looked them up, most seemed to be hanging fire. Some follow the English system anyway.

Annunziata Tue 07-Jun-11 21:42:45

I did hear rumours some of the Glasgow ones are switching to A-levels, but it is purely gossip and I'd not put my mortgage on it.

The CfE seems more about "skills" and "personal achievements" than a solid education.

AngusOg Tue 07-Jun-11 22:00:00

I did hear rumours some of the Glasgow ones are switching to A-levels, but it is purely gossip and I'd not put my mortgage on it.

Parents paying on top of their taxes for their children's education want some credible ( to employers / universities) exam results. Who can blame independent schools for using the English exam boards when the present proposals in Scotland seem so nebulous?

The CfE seems more about "skills" and "personal achievements" than a solid education.

You've got it in a nutshell. CfE - a methodology that is perfect for primary...

mustdash Tue 07-Jun-11 22:17:37

I just picked up this from the head of the school DD1 will start in August. It feels slightly stiff, but quite open.

Any thoughts from anyone at all, quite welcome!

"Thank you for your enquiry regarding the Angus Council presentation policy for young students who have now embarking upon our Curriculum for Excellence programme.

The ‘national debate/discussion’ regarding the number of subjects to be studied during the CfE Senior Phase ( ie S4 -S6 ) is still ongoing. May I draw your attention to the latest advisory note received from the CfE Management Board ( copy attached ), in particular Section 4 – Concerns about the number of presentations in S4. This advisory bulletin does not offer local authorities specific advice as to the precise number of subjects to be studied in S4 and beyond but offers a perspective of the developing CfE models that are beginning to emerge across Scotland. The consultation and discussion continues across Angus and involves all eight Angus secondary Parent Councils.

At next week’s meeting of P7 parents I will be outlining the proposed model we are developing for xxxx.

What I can tell you is that we are planning to offer pupils a broad general educational experience during the CfE Junior Phase ( S1-S3 ) and we are considering the study of up to six subjects in S4 of the Senior Phase reducing to 5 subjects in each of S5 and S6.

I will be more than happy and willing to share more details of our planned CfE programme at next week’s parents meeting.

The first presentations at National 4 / 5 will be in May 2014 therefore we still have time to review and consult on our curricular plans before anything is agreed. As part of our ongoing consultation process I intend to have a further series of parental CfE consultation meetings in the Autumn."

darleneoconnor Wed 08-Jun-11 00:13:21

5 subjects is a lot to be doing in 6th year isn't it? I know I only wanted to be doing 3 by that stage.

wigglybeezer Wed 08-Jun-11 16:34:50

Pointy, I didn't mean to imply that you had interpreted your info wrongly, I was just hoping, for your sake, that Angus were just being unclear.

I am worried that the emphasis on "skills and achievement", while of benefit to those children whose parents don't send them to scouts or music lessons or teach them about cooking and budgeting, will mean my children will have a less academic education than I had.

I was able to do eight 0-grades to enable me to do three sciences as i wanted to be a vet, I then changed my mind and was able to do crash highers to allow me to go to art school (must have been fun being my parents at the time!).

I have read some information that implies that, in some schools at least, there will be later opportunities to pick up subjects that had been dropped at the end of S3. I also read of Scottish Baccalaureates in science or language (which I had not heard of before).

It seems as though clarity is needed urgently.

celticlassie Wed 08-Jun-11 17:50:36

This is a subject close to my heart because, as a secondary English teacher, my view is that the whole thing is a fucking shambles. The reason parents aren't being told anything is because schools genuinely don't have a clue what's going to happen.

Last year, when first year started CfE was not an issue, really, as we continued much as we had done in the past but we would normally start bright S2s on SG work in S2 as S2 has traditionally been a bit of a wasted year. HOwever, this year we can't because no-one knows what format the 'national' exams are going to be in. So we've had to come up with an S2 course based on what we do know is going to happen - which is that as some point they will sit Higher! Not entirely helpful and certainly not conducive to creating 'successful learners'. hmm

I think CfE (maybe) works in primary schools but for kids aged 14+ these 'I can' statements are nothing but dumbing down. In my school I believe the intention is to study 8 subjects and standards should remain rigourous but I can't help feeling that some schools may use CfE to disguise falling standards. (Which, let's face it, was probably the reason for it in the first place).

Rant over. (For now.)

pointydog Wed 08-Jun-11 19:10:34

celtic, your post covered pretty much the things I feared.

I heard about another high school in a different LA today and they, too, are considering 5 or 6.

mustdash Wed 08-Jun-11 19:15:26

celticlassie could you tell me what area you work in? No details needed obviously, but it would be enormously helpful if when I do meet with the head I could say that though I think that 6 is better than 5, if eg Highland are offering 8, then what can we do.

Thanks, I had no idea teachers genuinely didn't know what they had to do with this! It must be a nightmare for you all,

pointydog Wed 08-Jun-11 19:27:55

High schools are making it up as they go along. So are primaries but as others have said, the impact is not so great in primary.

celticlassie Wed 08-Jun-11 22:12:19

I'm in a very large city in the central belt. Not the capital one. (shhh!) wink

neepsntatties Wed 08-Jun-11 22:47:42

I can tell you what we are doing, filling in endless forms with stupid e and o codes. It's such a monumental waste of time. I am sick of trying to plan lessons without all the information I need and I am fed up of not having enough time to write new courses because I keep having to fill in stupid bloody pointless forms.

mustdash Wed 08-Jun-11 23:05:01

I'm really confused now. Scottish Bacc?

I just had a quick look at the Scottish Bacc pages on SQA. If the Scottish Bacc has been around for 2 years already as it seems, why have I not heard about it (other than possibly because we weren't living here when is started) and why are Scottish Bacc figures not published? Or are they?

This is increasing mad, and maddening.

hairypotter Wed 08-Jun-11 23:09:46

DD1 is in s1. At our PTA meeting last week this topic was brought up as a few members have dc's in that year group. The headteacher advised that our LA has decided on 5 - 6 however our school was not willing to accept this and has opted for 7 - 8. She expects that many other schools will follow our example.

I have to say, I'm extremely worried about this whole set up. I don't like the thought of my child and her peer group being guinea pigs for something so badly thought out and untested. I'm happy that our school has pushed for more subjects as I would be even more uneasy if I thought she would only sit 5.

Our headteacher did her best to reassure everyone that this will work. It has to work first time if it's not going to disadvantage our children.

mustdash Thu 09-Jun-11 10:17:20

hairy I love your name.

It is interesting and reassuring that heads are willing to face up to councils on this one. I think they will need a lot of support from teachers and parents to make it stick though.

pointydog Thu 09-Jun-11 16:59:17

hairy, are you willing to say what LA you are in?

hairypotter Thu 09-Jun-11 21:05:59

Yes we are in South Lanarkshire. Our headteacher and staff are amazing and really have the best interests of the children at heart.

There will be many more discussions about this, but I'm feeling happier albeit only slightly, knowing my dd will be able to take more than 5 exams.

Still not impressed though. I hate all this uncertainty where no one knows for sure what form the exams will take.

pointydog Thu 09-Jun-11 22:19:25

Thanks

primaryscot Sat 11-Jun-11 20:17:47

I'm a primary classroom teacher in Scotland. I have been on the front lines in developing CfE for the past four to five years.

Let me make this clear: there has never been any guidance worth talking about from the LA or the SG on CfE, beyond that infamous green folder full of "Experiences and Outcomes".

The rest has been all shoved off on teachers to invent and implement as and when we have the time and energy.

At present, individual teachers, schools, and clusters are all over the map on CfE and no-one knows what anyone else is doing. Assessment in primary is moribund.

God knows, I was no fan of 5-14, but they have clearly thrown the baby out with the bathwater on this one.

A disaster is in the making here for Scottish education.

Be assured, parents: whatever the SG and LAs are doing, or whatever they are telling you they are doing, it's all damage control. They haven't a sweet clue what's going on and where this will all lead.

SO WAKE UP, PARENTS IN SCOTLAND. GET AFTER YOUR MSPs and your COUNCILLORS and make them sit up and listen, or else your kids are going to pay a very heavy price.

primaryscot Sat 11-Jun-11 20:23:04

Pointy Dog wrote that "as others have said, the impact is not so great in primary."

As a primary teacher, I beg to differ. The impact in primary is huge, but it's masked, because a lot of teachers are simply reverting to teaching in the old topic/theme style, which is NOT what CfE is all about.

In addition, valid and reliable assessment is primary is effectively dead. This will definitely impact on the placement of pupils in S1.

Top to bottom, it's a shambles. But no-one with the power to do anything about it dares to say that.

So it's exactly the same as with government: in a democracy, you get the education system you deserve.

Waswondering Sat 11-Jun-11 20:40:58

(Marking place ... have primary aged children in a Scottish school ..... I grew up in Angus and dh has taught there but nothing further to add!)

confuzzledmonkey Sat 11-Jun-11 22:00:16

As a secondary teacher in the Angus authority, I'll openly (but ashamedly) admit to not having a bloody clue what it is I'm supposed to be doing with CfE.

I seem to fill in endless bits of paper and using statements that mean nothing to staff, pupils and parents. What's worrying is that these statements have different meanings in different authorities all over the country. They also have different meanings in different schools in the authority.

I have a list of experiences and outcomes that I am supposed to cover, but I do not know how to assess my pupils. Even when (if) I do manage to figure that out, I have no idea how to record it - there are so many different areas to be 'assessed' that I can't fit everything on one sheet!

When I ask questions from those 'above', I get nothing but exec speak which doesn't answer the question I've asked. I have now decided that those people who are supposed to be telling me what to do don't actually have a clue what it is I am supposed to be doing.

Angus have suggested that only 5 subjects be studied in S4, but they still seem a little unsure as to how that's actually going to work. It has been muted that S4, S5 and S6 could all be taught in the same class - with no thought about content/topics and age or suitability.

National 4 and National 5 are still in progress, we do not actually know what they will entail. That makes planning for anything next to impossible. If we are to teach 'certified' courses in one year, then some of the preparatory work is going to need to be done before that...but if I don't know what is in the course/exam, I can't prepare for it.

National 4 is entirely internally assessed. There is already huge pressure on teachers to get pupils to pass. A completely internally assessed course will of course ensure that nobody fails - and if they do, we'll be told not to let it happen again. What's worrying is that for those pupils only sitting N4 and leaving at the end of S4, they will never have sat an exam in their life, and are unlikely to have ever experienced failure. That bears no resemblence to real life whatsoever.

I have no clue about N5 whatsoever, apart from that it will have an external exam.

This week I have seen the proposals for the new Highers, and I am not filled with hope of academic rigour or raising standards. The new Higher seems to be in-line with the current Int2 course. That tells me that N5 will be in-line with Int 1 and N4 with Access 3 - so that would be lowering standards from where they currently are.

All in all, CfE is a total bloody disaster, and the more parents kick up a stink about it the better.

I've been directed here by a friend, I do not have children of my own - and in the light of what is happening in education at the moment, I am very grateful. However, my partner and I are likely to have children while CfE is still in place (becasue lets face it, as much as we don't like it, it's not going away), and we have already discussed the prospect of home-schooling or private schools working on another educational system.

Despite my position as a teacher in state education, I most certainly will not be sending my children to school under CfE - I want them to get an education, to learn and develop. To be challenged, rewarded, encouraged, enthused and motivated. In my opinion, CfE is not going to allow any of this to happen.

ecogan Sat 11-Jun-11 22:08:13

Some kids will have 3 years education others will only get 1 year or anything in between. No real structure and no way to transfer between authorities because each one will be doing their own things.

ecogan Sat 11-Jun-11 22:10:19

Should have said I'm a teacher and really worried about speed of change and lack of direction

igggi Sat 11-Jun-11 23:20:23

Not sure how the length of education will be affected - school leaving is the same? Unless you mean someone leaving at 16 only gets one year of exam subjects - but that's not all their education.

igggi Sat 11-Jun-11 23:20:24

Not sure how the length of education will be affected - school leaving is the same? Unless you mean someone leaving at 16 only gets one year of exam subjects - but that's not all their education.

AngusOg Sun 12-Jun-11 08:23:04

Unless you mean someone leaving at 16 only gets one year of exam subjects - but that's not all their education.

No, but at present, a Standard Grade course is two years of specialist study. These new proposals are badly thought out and seemingly allow one year for this. That one year may not be all their education but it is a concern if this is all that is offered re: studying for a worthwhile exam that will also prepare for Higher study. It is very likely that the bottom end of a cohort will leave school having never taken a formal exam at all, merely leaving school clutching a bit of paper from the school saying: 'I can do this, that and the other'. As I said in a previous post, as an employer, who would you take on as an apprentice - a kid with a handful of foundation level GCSEs from an English exam board or a kid with this nonsense from a Scottish school?

Have you read any of the CfE proposals or the draft documents on the SQA website about the new National exams / changes to Higher? Those are why the other teachers and me (also a teacher) are talking about what is going to happen to your children's future. Please read the proposals and comment. They haven't listened to teachers' concerns. Perhaps, if enough informed parents question things, they will listen.

AngusOg Sun 12-Jun-11 08:26:34

This is a subject close to my heart because, as a secondary English teacher, my view is that the whole thing is a fucking shambles. The reason parents aren't being told anything is because schools genuinely don't have a clue what's going to happen.

Seconded.

darleneoconnor Sun 12-Jun-11 11:20:30

The more I'm reading about the more worried I'm becoming. What do the Scottish unis think of this? Is admittance going to be based on Advanced Highers if the highers are being dumbed down?

If pupils can only do 5 subjects does that mean they can drop maths and english after s3?

AngusOg Sun 12-Jun-11 11:32:32

What do the Scottish unis think of this?

The public discourse and debate about so serious a matter has been a deafening silence, so what the universities think is not clear.

Is admittance going to be based on Advanced Highers if the highers are being dumbed down?

It would seem it already is in some quarters. One of my ex-pupils applied to a High-ranking Russell Group University in England and, despite having 6 Highers, was given a conditional place based on obtaining 3 AHs. This application was not for medicine or law, btw.

If pupils can only do 5 subjects does that mean they can drop maths and english after s3?

English and maths remain.

darleneoconnor Sun 12-Jun-11 12:51:44

so it's 5 including english and maths?

That's nuts! We'll end up with scientists/medics with no social science/arts knowledge or arty/crafty types with no scientific knowledge

pointydog Sun 12-Jun-11 13:19:11

'What do the Scottish unis think of this?'

Scottish unviersity leaders have set up a task group in an attempt to clear up the confusion over admission to universities. It is expected to report by December on a number of concerns that have been raised by secondary schools. These include universities' admissions policies on the status of Highers achieved over two or even three years compared to one year... Some universities say they will treat all Highers equally; others say that where high-tariff courses are over-subscribed they will give preference to those who have achieved all their Highers in a single sitting and over one year.

This is from the TESS. If they don't report until December, that leaves very very little time to sort out S3-S5 for the first CfE cohort. It's grim.

igggi Sun 12-Jun-11 14:01:51

One of the exemplars on the website has an option choice that does not have maths & english as compulsory - students have to take literacy and numeracy however. In theory there's no reason why they have to be compulsory. I think much of this would work out ok in the end if it wasn't also coming at a time of low morale, staff cuts, resources cut, pay cuts etc. Worst possible time for successful change.

igggi Sun 12-Jun-11 14:01:52

One of the exemplars on the website has an option choice that does not have maths & english as compulsory - students have to take literacy and numeracy however. In theory there's no reason why they have to be compulsory. I think much of this would work out ok in the end if it wasn't also coming at a time of low morale, staff cuts, resources cut, pay cuts etc. Worst possible time for successful change.

justwannateach Sun 12-Jun-11 15:00:34

This is a long response. Hopefully it answers all your questions. Just let me know if it doesn't.

You are all coming across an issue teachers have known about for some time. We have been unable to get anyone to listen. Perhaps you will have better luck. Here’s how it all works.

The past/now: Teachers taught from primary through to second year with a set of guidelines known as 5-14. In S3/S4 standard grades allowed students to sit exams at three levels, credit, general and foundation. Students are graded 1-6 (7 means no grade has been achieved) so they all get a grade.

“Higher Still” introduced Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2. Int 2 was meant to be for students who would find higher too difficult and would allow them to continue studying subjects in 5th year, maybe as a stepping stone to a higher in 6th year. Int 1 would be equivalent to general standard grade. Both were externally assessed and graded.

Some schools began to use Int 1 and 2 courses instead of standard grade. They felt that students were able to gain certification earlier and it removed the wasted time in S2. Some did a straight replacement for standard grade with a choice of Int 1 and Int 2, some started Int 1 in second year and used Int 2 in S3 and S4, and so on and so on. It was/is not unusual to find every school in a given authority running a different system. Eventually it became clear that Int 1 and 2 would be abolished along with standard grade. They would be replaced with something called “Nationals”.

The job of producing these was passed to the SQA (the Scottish Qualifications Authority). They are producing National 4 and National 5 which, by the SQA’s own admission, are very similar to Int 1 and Int 2. They are 160 hour courses (this means you can do roughly 5 in one year or 8 in two)

Here is the problem: CfE was supposed to extend through S3 with examined courses beginning in S4. That should leave you one year – 5 subjects. In reality there are a number of different options:

1. As above. 5 subjects in S4. Deal with it.

2. Use S3. Do 8 National 4 and 5 subjects in parallel over S3 and S4. Problems: Can these different levels be taught in the same class? Int 1, 2 and higher were very different in some subjects and this was an issue. Also, you now have to start everything in June next year, a year early. There is no guarantee the courses will be ready by then. They certainly won’t be ready soon enough for teachers to get materials ready.

3. Use S3. As above but run the courses as one year courses, 5 in S3, 5 in S4.

4. Use S2. Have students choose options at the end of S1. Do National 4 in S2 then have everyone do National 5 in S3/4. Some schools are planning for this.Problems: It’s already too late to start this (but it could be done in future). It would involve ignoring the whole point of CfE in secondary (if there is one).

The actual response from LTS (who are ion charge of CfE) to your question is here (concern 4): www.ltscotland.org.uk/Images/SeniorPhaseStatement_tcm4-662739.pdf

Basically they say that the exact form of the curriculum will be down to individual schools. So that’s that sorted then.

As well as the above you have a number of other issues. For example, there is now talk of two year highers, of a move away from examinations in S4. The logic being that most students stay until at least S5 anyway these days. And the pupils who don’t? Well…that’s a good question.

Here’s another really big issue that nobody seems aware of yet. National 4 will be internally assessed (which means that your child’s teacher will spend most of the year testing and retesting to make sure everyone passes) and there will be no grade. It will be pass/fail. That vast pool of students who are the equivalent of general or foundation at standard grade will be lumped together. Those who might previously have scraped a 6 will now receive exactly the same grade as the students who worked hard and achieved a 3. This group, of course, are the very students who are likely to leave early and will need these qualifications to get jobs because they might not go on to get highers.

I hope all your children are destined to achieve great things academically. They’ll probably be fine (they usually are). The rest…well, I guess they’ll just have to take their chances as this is all worked out. You could always ask the education minister, Mr Russell, about this. His email is: Michael.Russell.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

Or you could write to him: Michael Russell MSP, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP

Or…why not give him a call on 0131 348 6326?

You could also contact Learning and Teaching Scotland on 0141 282 5000 or enquiries@LTScotland.org.uk

Or the SQA on 0845 279 1000 or customer@sqa.org.uk

That won’t get you anywhere useful but it is hilarious to listen to them squirm and mumble. Why not let us know how you get on?

AngusOg Sun 12-Jun-11 15:21:24

Fantastic, thorough post, Justwannateach. Thank you. You really are superbly gifted with eloquence smile

If any parents would like to see what teachers have been dealing with, justwannateach loaded several spoof video clips on youtube, which sure as hell lifted the gloom for us all. Like all good satire, it cuts - but there is more than an element of truth in them:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=43OFjvTiNDg&feature=fvsr is the first of them.

AngusOg Sun 12-Jun-11 15:25:32

And for any confused journalist out there, why not just ask Justwannateach's permission to C&P the post? All the issues parents need to be aware of are there.

kaumana Sun 12-Jun-11 15:55:29

The CFE is one of the main reasons my DS (P7) is going to a school which offers the IB as well. As he will be the second year to go through the new system I wanted to have a back up in case it goes all horribly wrong, which the more I read about it the more I think it will.

pointydog Sun 12-Jun-11 16:56:43

Thanks for the big summary, justwanna.

It's all so complicated that I think there's also a huge concern that parents won't be able to - or won't be overly bothered to - get their heads around it in the short timescale that remains.

Most people on this thread are teachers.

There is no clear information for parents out there.

kaumana Sun 12-Jun-11 17:05:32

pointydog you are bang on. My friends had no idea that the exams were changing and didn't believe me at first!

justwannateach - thanks for the summary, I think I'll have to read it a couple of times for it to make sense in my head.

headlikeasieve Sun 12-Jun-11 17:46:05

I have been following this thread with interest and despair

justwannateach that's probably the best post I have ever seen on mumsnet! Thank you

My DD is to start S1 after the summer and like most people I had no idea any of this was going on and am deeply concerned about it. The problem with writing to the relevant people is what the hell do you say? I don't feel I have enough knowledge to make an argument about anything, perhaps this is their plan! I would go as far as to say I am afraid for my daughters education after reading this thread.

Perhaps someone more knowledgeable and organised than I am can take the lead and start some sort of movement or something we can all join

justwannateach Sun 12-Jun-11 19:33:47

pointydog: There is no clear information for parents out there.

If it's any consolation (and I'm sure it isn't) there isn't any for teachers either. But at least when you ask for more information they might feel some obligation to answer you. When teachers ask they just roll their eyes at us and repeat that they're not going to lead us by the hand.

Jacaqueen Sun 12-Jun-11 21:38:20

justwannateach thankyou so much for that well considered post.

I am not a teacher, but a parent of a child about to start in S3, who will thankfully still sit Standards and Highers. I do however have a child in primary.

I am involved with the Parent Council in both schools and have been trying to get across my concerns over the whole CofE debacle for some time.

If I may, I would like to use your post at the next Parent Council meeting.

pointydog Sun 12-Jun-11 22:05:46

I'm a primary teacher, wanna. And I'm struggling to keep up with waht's happening in the secondaries.

mk3 Sun 12-Jun-11 22:32:53

Another secondary school teacher here. At my school, we say CforE is like 'the Emperor's new clothes.' I really wish the media would pick this up. Ordinary teachers have absolutely no voice on this as far as I can see. Is there anything we can do as parents?

mustdash Mon 13-Jun-11 20:08:44

I'm the OP, and badly want to do something about this, but am a bit out of my depth.

Justwanna, thank you for your post, it was great, and Angusog for the the link, which was excellent, I'll look for more later.

Have any of the opposition parties had anything to say about this? I can't believe they are just sitting back and letting this happen. Are any of the serious Scottish national papers (if they are still serious, or national) likely to be supportive? Surely the Parent Councils have a collective voice somewhere? I see there is a Forum of Parent Councils which is linked to LTS, but their out of date newsletter just parrots info from LTS - not the point really I'd have thought.

My DD is starting high school in a couple of months time, and I can't believe anyone in government thinks it is OK that there is no agreement between teachers and universities about what they are working towards.

Why is this taking so long, and more to the point, why are there no voices in the opposition, or media shouting about it? Is it because it always gets dragged back down in to the discussion about teachers pay and conditions? I'm not saying that there isn't a problem with that, but there are separate issues here that are being melded.

What should I do next? Actually, Justwanna, you've told me what I should do next. I think I'll also write to my local director of education, and msp.

Can anyone help me with wording an e-mail?

Thanks,

kaumana Mon 13-Jun-11 20:40:15

mustdash - I think you are right in that the media are concentrating on pay and conditions at the moment and ignoring what the Senior school teachers are saying about the CfE.

IME - The majority of parents whose children will in the future be affected by the changes are currently in primary school and have no idea of what is in store re the exams.

I have a friend whose child is in S1 and just had a quick chat with her and she is just as confused and concerned.

I am going to a meeting at my DS school on Wednesday at which the future syllabus will be discussed.

AngusOg Mon 13-Jun-11 21:09:54

Have any of the opposition parties had anything to say about this? I can't believe they are just sitting back and letting this happen. Are any of the serious Scottish national papers (if they are still serious, or national) likely to be supportive?

This is the bit I really don't get - when did Scots turn into sheep? Why has there been no public discourse on all of this? It seems as if the role of a teacher is being devalued to the point where their own academic achievements count for nothing and as for viewing them as professionals? Pah! What do we know - our lords and masters know better. After all, they went to school once. Cynical? Me?


WIs it because it always gets dragged back down in to the discussion about teachers pay and conditions? I'm not saying that there isn't a problem with that, but there are separate issues here that are being melded

Agreed. And when you do try to raise the matter, it is dismissed as 'moaning and complaining again'. See much earlier post in response to that particualr comment!

I think I'll also write to my local director of education, and msp.

Please, please do - and send a copy to the media?

Can anyone help me with wording an e-mail?

If no-one else can help, I can do so tomorrow, if you'd like. But being one of these lazy teachers, I'm bogged down with planning this evening.

(where's the pissed-off emoticon when you need it!)

justwannateach Mon 13-Jun-11 23:42:48

Jacaqueen: You can use my post any way you want. I hope it is useful.

Pointydog: What is happening in secondary schools is that people are getting on with it as best they can. Mainly they are updating courses using the limited information that has been released. Nobody seems to know what will happen but...headteachers don’t have any answers because their director of education doesn’t have an answer because the minister of education doesn’t have an answer. So…we complain a bit, which makes no difference to anything, and then get on with our job as best we can.
Whenever we point out the problems with CfE the response is “Teachers are moaning again…they are resistant to change…they are not prepared to adapt and need to move with the times.” That has all worked pretty well. Probably because that’s what the general public think of us anyway.

The current issue with teachers’ pay and conditions is a separate issue but there is a similar narrative: “Look at their holidays…short days…outdated working practices…have to do their fair share…they’re not special…who do they think they are…” etc. Conditions and pay were recently cut and many EIS members felt their union didn’t fight for their interests strongly enough. In July there will be a wider review of teachers’ conditions. Submissions to that review have leaking and they do not look good for teachers which is what you have seen in the news.

I think very little will happen to improve the implementation of CfE as it is not in the interest of anyone involved (except teachers and parents of course).

The unions: Main teaching union is the EIS (much larger than the SSTA which is only for secondary teachers). The EIS have been on the CfE management board throughout this whole process and have generally been positive regarding CfE. I am told by some that primary teachers have less of a problem with CfE than secondary, mainly because it is better than what they had before (but you’d have to ask them whether that’s true).
Expecting the EIS to turn around and attack the principles of CfE now is slightly unrealistic. That said, the EIS at their recent conference voted to ballot members on boycotting CfE but the ballot won’t be held until November and I personally don’t see it making much difference: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-13729147

Since May 2010 the SSTA have been criticising CfE and in about October 2010 were kicked off the management board after threatening industrial action.

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/8665793.stm
www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-10985845

Political parties: Labour started this whole thing before the SNP took power the last time so any attack on it is likely to be limited to “You aren’t doing this properly and are hence ruining CfE” rather than “Stop CfE immediately”

The SNP pursued CfE even after the demotion of Fiona Hyslop, the last education minister. They could have ditched large portions of it then but didn’t. Mike Russell has consistently defended CfE and the government’s handling of all.

Other organisations include…

LTS: Responsible for CfE and in my opinion a significant contender for the most hopeless, hapless, incompetent organisation ever to have existed in the history of the Planet Earth. Never has so little been produced by so many for so long. LTS employed large numbers of teachers, taken out of schools on short term contracts, rotating them after a couple of years after having produced very little. LTS is now being “merged” with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate, has apparently been stripped to a shadow its former self and the teachers have been allowed to return to their schools.

SQA/HMI: They have been supportive of CfE. If I were a more cynical person I might say that they saw there wouldn’t be room for three big organisations in future and were keen not to be the one that was axed. If that was their strategy it worked. LTS is going. SQA are busy writing assessments to fit with CfE, even though they can’t fit with CfE, and generally seem to be doing a good impression of Pontius Pilate whenever they are questioned. HMI are cheerfully inspecting schools, making sure they are preparing for CfE properly although they don’t seem to have any more of an idea what that means than we do (although good luck ever getting them to admit that).

So…there really isn’t anyone who will help as far as I can see. But that’s just my opinion.

AngusOg Tue 14-Jun-11 18:18:48

Can anyone help me with wording an e-mail?

Is something like this any use?

Dear xxxxx

I am a parent of a child whose education will now be conducted under the new CfE and I have been reading about what is proposed in respect of the exam / academic challenge and other changes to our children's education.

I am extremely concerned about the lack of information about the content, assessment and academic rigour within this curriculm and therefore would be very much obliged if you would clarify what has replaced 5 - 14 progression.

My reading has also led me to understand that those candidates who would at present sit an external standard grade at foundation level will now be assessed wholly within their schooIs. Needless to say, this surprises me somewhat and I would therefore appreciate both clarification of this point and request details of the academic content of the new Nationals at all levels. I find it hard to believe that a National 4 will be recognised by employers or colleges if it is merely a certificate from school.

In addition, it seems there is some confusion over both the number of National 5 subjects available to pupils - will it be a matter of variance from school to school, with some schools offering as few as 5 subjects? If this is so, then it somewhat belies the ethos of a broad and general education, does it not?

My final concern is in respect of the changes to Highers and how Universities will regard the proposals for Higher courses to be spread over two years. Will the new Higher course have parity and an equal amount of academic depth as an A level, thus making an Honours Degree in Scotland a three year course, as it is in England? Will the courses that, at present, require a candidate to achieve five Highers in one sitting still recognise these new exams?

I appreciate these are weighty questions, but I am equally sure that you appreciate my concerns as a parent. This affects my children's futures. I very much look forward to clarification on all questions raised within this letter and I would appreciate a prompt response in respect of the same.

Yours etc

AngusOg Tue 14-Jun-11 18:22:59

In addition, it seems there is some confusion over both the number

Delete both and plural number! Sorry, more hurry, less haste.

justwannateach Tue 14-Jun-11 19:51:40

I think that email is very good. If everyone on here did the same you never know, it might wake up someone somewhere.

One point: National 4 is, unbelievably, actually equivalent to general standard grade, not foundation.

Also, two very small things:
1. There is a tiny typo: "within their schooIs"
2. Should "external standard grade" be "externally examined standard grade"?

Let us know how you get on.

kaumana Tue 14-Jun-11 20:35:58

Just an idea, can we link this page to the local Scottish sites on the forum?

AngusOg Tue 14-Jun-11 20:43:51

^One point: National 4 is, unbelievably, actually equivalent to general standard grade, not foundation.

Also, two very small things:
1. There is a tiny typo: "within their schooIs"
2. Should "external standard grade" be "externally examined standard grade"?^

Thank you, I missed those. More hurry etc... grin

AngusOg Tue 14-Jun-11 20:45:30

Just an idea, can we link this page to the local Scottish sites on the forum?

Please do - it's a bit late in the day, perhaps, but the more this is known about, the less of a surprise it will be when the whole thing is called into question.

Groovee Wed 15-Jun-11 14:37:38

I have a P6 who will go next summer to a high school where they make choices for S2&3 and then S3&4 allowing them to concentrate on half the exams at once. It's a concern that this has been planned for quite some time and yet they don't seem to know what the hell they are doing.

I work in early years where a lot of work has been started in the last 5 years for the change over but it's still not sure about things which is ridiculous. If you're going to implement something you should know which way it should be going and easily understood for parents.

mustdash Thu 16-Jun-11 14:04:43

I've been putting off doing anything about this because I hate not getting my way, and as has been said above, it is likely that no one will take this up. However. It is the new parents meeting at the high school DD1 will attend tonight. I want to see what the Parent Council say, and the Head, so that at least what I do next is informed.

Thank you for the help with constructing the letter, and for all the additional background info you have given me.

I'll report back. smile

darleneoconnor Thu 16-Jun-11 20:16:31

I've seen an ad by the SQA in the local paper tonight which says they are currently working with parents and teachers in your local area to develop new qualifications to prepare pupils for college, uni and employment. Just a load of blurb really.

pointydog Thu 16-Jun-11 20:29:21

Let us know how you get on, dash

mustdash Mon 22-Aug-11 13:48:54

TESS have quoted this verbatim in last week's mag. hmm Nice of them to give the council a chance to respond, but to say that what I'd written was a "MN Panic" angry.

kaumana Mon 22-Aug-11 20:40:14

@mustdash - is it online? Can you link?

Jacaqueen Mon 22-Aug-11 23:44:50

Just coming back to this as new term is getting under way and I am still no further forward in getting my head round all of this.

mustdash Wed 24-Aug-11 11:24:33

TESS link here

Also, just to update from a personal perspective, I decided not to do anything more about it, after talking to the head of DD1's new school. According to him, all schools in angus will now be offering 6 national 5s. He also said that the discussions with the universities (he claimed including Edinburgh, and Oxbridge hmm) were also positive, and well advanced, just not announced.

A teacher who works in Dundee told me that his school was looking at 3, but I'm sure he must be wrong..... shock.

DD1 has started High School, and so far, is absolutely loving it.

mustdash Wed 24-Aug-11 13:08:02

interesting piece in TES from December last year about Aberdeenshire

I just found this too, when going online to find the piece from last week.

I don't understand why the Parent Council forum hasn't picked up on this.

oldmum42 Wed 24-Aug-11 14:34:34

Absolute madness.

MUSTDASH I assume the Dundee teacher meant 3 subject to be chosen by the pupil, + Maths and English.

My ds3 has just started S3 in a north Fife school, and will, thankfully not be caught up in this whole appalling, ill thought-out mess. However, DS4 is still pre school so it does concern me.

The past few years, I've watched with horror the various changes in primary schools - our DS primary was a pilot for the PLP crap, which seemed an exercise in obscuring from parents any real information about the progress of a child (in relation to his/her peers) from it's parents. When pressed for actual information, the usual "it is the progress of the individual not the class that's important" was trotted out, and in numerous meetings with the schools teachers/head we laid out our main argument against this - having some idea where you child is against his peer group (locally and nationally) is incredibly important in terms of identifying areas where the child needs extra help/tutoring. Smiley traffic light report cards containing no useful information are a pointless waste of time, for teachers and parents.
For 3 years in a row, we had these non-report cards, from which you would deduce that out DS2 (dyslexic and slipping further back every term at this point) had NO problems or issues at all at school, when in fact he was struggling and starting to turn off from education. We were in a position to know that the "happy-smiley everything is progressing well report card" wasn't true, and also strong willed enough to challenge the school about it, but many parents are oblivious to the problems (don't know, don't want to know, and believe all the sugary statements about the wonderful new system). I had very little success in trying to raise awareness of the changes with other parents.

I remember one "explanatory" meeting at the school, where DH and I sat in horror at what was being said in the Q and A session - "getting the answer wrong in maths is not important, it's the process that's important" (in response to a Q about why a DC wrong maths Q were not being corrected),
my DH interjection of "if they are getting the answers wrong perhaps they don't understand the PROCESS", went down like a lead balloon.

As I said, utter madness. And now we are to have a whole generation of students with potentially damaged life chances when they leave school ..... Universities are going to have serious issues with admissions criteria if some schools only allow 5 nat5 exams, and some allow up to 10. Also, taking highers 2 or 3 at a time instead of 5 in one sitting can cause problems with entry to elite courses such as Medicine and Vet Med (and incidentally in these courses Standard Grade/GCSE results are a crucial part of the selection process), the Unis want to see that the student can handle a heavy and academically rigorous workload.

It is easy for the powers-that-be to say change is always threatening and we (parents) are just reacting to change and it will all be much better than it was before....... but I think in this case it's been a long series of ill thought out, half-arsed and badly implemented changes which will benefit no one, not staff, pupils or parents, but may save the education authorities a pile of cash.

Having resisted going down the private education route for DS1-3 (decent enough local secondary supplemented by tutoring in key subjects ), we are now actively considering it for DS4. We know we are very lucky we can consider that option.

mustdash Wed 24-Aug-11 17:44:04

I believe if they could illustrate why they believe the new system will work, most parents be more supportive.

I absolutely agree with you about the cost. I'd love to know how much money they'll save in the councils having the children sit 5 or 6, rather than 8 subjects.

I agree too with what you say about the sugary report cards. DD2's friends parents believe their daughters have had the most amazing year in school ever..... I can't believe they fall for it. Even the sugariest (is that even a word, sorry) report card if written by an effective teacher, who knows the child, can be an accurate picture. If the teacher isn't up to it though, it is easiest for them just to write a load of meaningless nonsense. That is another whole issue though. I could rant forever blush!

oldmum42 Wed 24-Aug-11 18:16:42

.... I think those who are going to be let down the most, are not the "bright kids", but the large number who are going to have NO nationally assessed exams at age 16......

kaumana Wed 24-Aug-11 19:12:21

oldmum - totally agree with your posts, I just wish other parents took the time to research what the CfE really means for their children.

kaumana Wed 24-Aug-11 19:15:29

mustdash - I've had some friends say how fantastic their child is doing compared to past years reports. Maybe if I through in a few smiley faces in my reports at work it will have the same reaction, worth a shot...

kaumana Wed 24-Aug-11 19:15:49

"throw"

mustdash Wed 24-Aug-11 19:26:39

oldmum, that was definitely the concern I had coming away from talking to DD1s head.

mustdash Wed 24-Aug-11 19:31:49

sorry hit post before I'd finished. I think many parents don't even realise that this is a possibility. I don't recall seeing any figures about the children who would be condemned sitting Nat 4s.

kaumana, there is always room for a smiley. Give it a go, you never know. smile

kaumana Wed 24-Aug-11 19:34:06

grin

oldmum42 Wed 24-Aug-11 21:44:52

My understanding is, the Nat 4 is like foundation/general, and only the "credit" kids would get to do Nat 5?

I don't know the % of kids who sit Foundation, general or credit exams in each subject, but I THINK that it may be roughly thirds do each exam, with pupils sitting 2 exams in each subject (foundation&general or general&credit). So what's going to happen to all the pupils who at are mid scoring "General" students? Currently they get to sit General and Credit exams, so if they make good progress over the last 3 or 4 months of the course, they can achieve a Credit grade...... will they be pushed down to the Nat 4 or up to the Nat 5..... late developers/late to mature could be left without the means to progress to Higher exams, as far as I can see. Though there is so little hard information coming from the schools, it's hard to tell.....

hanahsaunt Wed 24-Aug-11 22:13:48

FWIW my old school encouraged the brightest in each year to bypass standard grades and thus taught the higher syllabus over 2 years (i.e. 4th and 5th year). I think all who did this came out with As in those highers (and a real passion for the subjects). Didn't affect university admissions at all (other than having a greater number of As to offer).

This would be the school that is now the first to offer the IB as an alternative to CfE...

kaumana Wed 24-Aug-11 22:46:36

hannah - Which school?

hanahsaunt Thu 25-Aug-11 21:19:26

Kaumana - George Watson's College, Edinburgh.

kaumana Thu 25-Aug-11 21:50:12

Hannah - grin

shechameleon Wed 19-Oct-11 22:41:21

Just found this searching for info on new CfE exams - had a meeting at our local school (Ayrshire) last week.

Pupils will be choosing 8 subjects at end of second year, then all follow same course until start of 4th year when decision will be made whether they will follow National 4 or National 5 course.

National 4 will be assessed internally (as mentioned above). There will be no grade - just pass or fail.

National 5 - there will be internally assessed course modules that must be passed (presumably like current NABs) to pass the course as a whole but the grade (A, B, C or D) will be based solely on the performance in the externally marked exam.

wigglybeezer Mon 31-Oct-11 15:49:32

We've just had the meeting too, our kids will choose 10! subjects for 3rd year , narrowing down to 8 for fourth year when most will be doing national 5's, then back down to 5 for highers in fifth year. Actually not that different from the status quo apart from compulsory RE and an expressive art in third year.

I was quite relieved as DS1 will not be ready to narrow down his choices at the end of this year.

readsalotgirl Mon 31-Oct-11 18:41:57

That's good to know. School I work in the kids are choosing subjects at the end of S1 which I think is too early but I've had no info from dd's school and am going to ask at first parents night this week. Will let you know what the answer is

wigglybeezer Thu 03-Nov-11 13:25:36

bump

PurpleFrog Thu 03-Nov-11 16:31:52

Hmmm .... so much for following a core course until the end of S3 then choosing!

oldmum42 Fri 04-Nov-11 10:57:23

I think there will be a lot more info emerging in the next couple of weeks. Our school has a meeting this week for parents of S1 +2 (it's a Fife school). I won't be attending as DS3 is in S3 and DS4 is not yet school age, I find the whole thing very disturbing none the less.

The kids who end up doing internally marks exams will be seen to have a second rate exam pass, because it IS second rate.... I'd rather know someone I was interviewing had a 4/5/6 in a national level exam, than a "pass" given by the school.

And for the more academic kids, there is also the issue that if councils across Scotland are going to be deciding on widely different numbers of subjects available and over what time frame (as seems to be the case), how are the universities going to judge which students to offer places to? It is not just Highers they are looking at, Edingburgh and St Andrews both look at the number of SG sat in 1 sitting, and the grades, and a score given based on that, as well as the Highers (first sitting). How will they compare different regions? And will this disadvantage those applying to English universities?

wigglybeezer Fri 04-Nov-11 12:30:31

The Highers problem was brought up by several parents at our meeting, I think the fact that our school is fairly academic (compared to some) is one of the reasons that our headie decided to stick to a one year Higher course; to avoid disadvantaging pupils applying to competitive uni's.

PurpleFrog Fri 04-Nov-11 13:15:04

oldmum42 - well I guess your DS3 is not at my S2 DD's school, as I don't have a meeting this/next week. [I am in North Fife as well!]

I really object to the fact that many schools appear to be playing the system already, giving pupils a head start on "exam work". But, do the syllabi for these new exams even exist yet!?

oldmum42 Fri 04-Nov-11 14:55:27

Waves to Purple! My DS will be at the other North East Fife school, in the other Market town then!

At My DS3 (3rd year), was made to test run (as he described it), exams/tests for the new curriculum just before October Hols. Was worried about them trying to foist the new system onto the 3rd years as well, but I suppose we would have been invited to the meeting if that was the case.

Wigglybeezer, yes, I think a lot of schools don't know that competitive courses such as Medicine will only count your first sitting of Highers, will not accept resits or taking of 5 highers over 2 years (in 2 sittings) instead of 1, so they are not going to be happy with someone taking 5 highers for 2 years!

oldmum42 Fri 04-Nov-11 16:41:03

Ah, it might be the same school - email about the meeting arrived a few days ago and I misread the date of meeting - it's in a couple of weeks!

The school invite comment from ANY parent, not just those of S1/2 pupils (invite them to the meeting anyway), I would not be able to attend but am wondering if I should email HT with to ask............How will this affect Uni applicants? Because at the moment, some elite courses (and most courses at St Andrews and Edinburgh) stipulate that Highers must be done in one academic year/sitting, and that Standard Grades are used to rank pupils, and that increasingly, these two Scottish Unis are asking for Advanced Highers as well as Highers..... etc.

My DS1 was accepted into a very competitive course at a very competitive English University this year - I wonder if he would have even had a chance of that, under a new system where course structure, and the number of courses offered is going to vary so wildly from Council to Council, I think the Scottish Universities will struggle with that, but the English ones may not bother trying to understand such a fragmented system.

PurpleFrog Fri 04-Nov-11 16:52:37

Ha - we never get things by e-mail so I guess it is not the same school. I take it you realise there are 3 secondary schools in North East Fife, though. wink

CountDuckula Fri 04-Nov-11 17:00:57

Oldmum, I'm guessing you have children at the same school as me. Last one due to start there next year. I'm ashamed to say I'm waiting till they've figured it out enough to put it in a simple email. In addition to the lots of others they are sending out now!

Being raised in England I'm still getting my head around standards and highers

oldmum42 Fri 04-Nov-11 17:09:46

Ah well, If you mean State schools, I do have a vague awareness that there might be a third one a bit further south..... not sure where north Fife ends! smile

oldmum42 Fri 04-Nov-11 17:11:36

Hello CountDuckula, Yes, the "Parentmail" is never ending!

wigglybeezer Sat 05-Nov-11 15:41:18

I must find out what my local independent is doing, as far as i know they are going to carry on with much the same timetable of subject choice and exams as the have always done (ie. national 5's in fourth year and highers in fifth same as my kids' comp grin)but i do know that they are switching to GSCE for Latin and Greek!

Count, there were a few bemused English parents putting their hands up at our meeting, i don't understand standard grades and intermediate 1 &2 because I'm too old to have sat them!

Annunziata Sat 04-Feb-12 22:09:52

So it turns out East Ren is postponing. I am selfishly incredible grateful.

Anyone want to hazard a guess if the rest will follow?

Annunziata Sat 04-Feb-12 22:10:37

*incredibly

wigglybeezer Tue 14-Feb-12 17:59:14

Bumping this thread to find out if any of you have more information since november.

Turns out that 3rd years at My son's school will choose 10 subjects for 3rd year which they will cut down to eight for 4th year.

I am quite happy about this as some schools do seem to be keeping the number of choices low.

PurpleFrog Tue 14-Feb-12 20:55:36

We have an "Information Evening" at the end of this month. It worries me that some schools are obviously going to be starting to cover exam syllabi in 3rd year and some schools are trying to delay the new exams for a year. It is not going to be a level playing field..... hmm

emummum Wed 15-Feb-12 21:27:07

I've just been told we will do 7 subjects in S4, but this does not leave enough time to teach them. How can it be imagined that we can teach a course in one year, in half the time we used to have when the exam work began in S3? Not to mention there is harder content at all levels than currently found in the S Grade and intermediate 'equivalent' levels.

We are worried for the pupils. We know their future options depend on proper opportunities in school. Teachers, like parents are worried because we care about doing as good a job as possible for out pupils.

crosscountry Wed 15-Feb-12 22:02:25

My daughter will be studying 8 subjects in S3 and only 6 in S4. What a shambles.

wigglybeezer Thu 16-Feb-12 18:21:41

At DS1's school they are starting third year in May, if they do 2 periods a week of a subject in third year(when they are doing 10 subjects) followed by 3 periods a week per subject in fourth year when they have cut down to 8 subjects they will apparently cover the recommended 160 hours per course.

So they are starting their exam courses in third year but keeping a broad curriculum. We will have to see how it works out.

crosscountry Mon 20-Feb-12 14:54:07

Does anyone know where I could get a definitive answer to the original question, without having to trawl around each council?
This post seems to have gone quiet. Have you all managed to put pressure on your schools to get the result you wanted?

harki Sat 07-Apr-12 11:01:25

I am very dissatisfied with how the new curriculum is being implemented. No continuity across Scotland or even within shires. Lack of support/ training for teachers and lack of transparency between schools/ parents as to what's going on. Personally I feel that doing 8 subjects over s3/s4 is the best way to go but it seems to me that the govt. bodies want to push for 6 subjects max.
We parents need to speak to our local MSP's to get our views heard by councils and govt. What a shambles and it doesn't exactly look good on the SNP either . Would love to know what schools across scotland are doing so we can be better informed.

roughtyping Sat 07-Apr-12 11:25:10

I'm a primary teacher in Scotland and I've just read this whole thread. Oh my god! I thought it was bad enough in primary...

The IDEA of CfE is lovely, yes, but there hasn't been enough support/tools put in place to deliver it effectively. My son is mid primary so god knows what it'll be like by the time he's in secondary...

Are any of you aware of councils refusing to change this year?

As AngusOg said away back on the first page, glad parents are seeing the shambles... Feel awful for all of you sad hope your kids do ok through it.

harki Sat 07-Apr-12 12:24:02

Our school is refusing to opt out this year and is continuing with 6 N4/5 in S4.
It seems that it's what schools are doing and not what councils are doing as in Aberdeenshire there's a real mix of whats going on. angry

meala Sat 07-Apr-12 12:38:20

Another secondary teacher here. As with most posters, the position is still unclear in my council area. This is very worrying as kids are to be sitting these exams soon and are already working on CfE.

What appears to be the situation here is that pupils will choose 8 subjects at the end of S2 that will be studied over S3 and S4. They will then drop 3 of these subjects at the end of S4 and study 5 subjects in S5, S6 (as is the case with standard grade just now). However, what concerns me is that we are being told that pupils will only sit exams (Nat 5) in the subjects that they are going to drop. They will then go on to do Highers, Advanced Highers in the subjects they are continuing with. I do not understand the logic behind this. Pupils will face their first Higher exam in a subject for which they have never experienced an examination. I also worry about what will happen to pupils who are not capable of sitting Highers, Nat5. They will now leave school with no externally examined qualifications.

harki Sat 07-Apr-12 12:55:51

Couldn't agree more. Why not sit exams in all subjects chosen at the end of S4. Surely that helps you decide which subjects to continue on with. I can't help but think this is all about cutting costs. sad

Daisyeight Tue 09-Oct-12 17:52:14

Our LEA have issued a blanket statement that will limit the number of N5's taken at the end of S4 to 6.

Anyone else out there experienced the same thing or is the curriculum model in the senior phase being left to the individual school to design and implement?

jennycrofter Tue 09-Oct-12 19:33:59

From what I've heard/read, more and more councils are going for the 6 N5 model. Angus, Aberdeen and Highland are confirmed, I think. Where are you Daisy?

One thing which does seem to be varying is whether the schools do it 3+3, which is how the curriculum is designed, or 2+2+2, which is how it's done just now. Angus, I going 3+3.

I'm just concerned that narrowing down to 6 subjects in S3 will mean that the DCs will have to make huge and significant choices at at point about their whole education. For DD1, it will mean probably no languages, and an early choice of art or music. It pains me that she will have to spend 3 periods a week doing PE (she does min 8hrs sport/wk outside school - I am not anti PE) rather than learning something she loves.

On the up side, the more councils going with 6, the more likely the universities and employers are to be accepting of it. It does mean that there is little scope for changing career/employment/uni plans after S3 though. DD1 will also need to pick up a subject in S6 to do a Higher in a subject she won't have studied since S3, if she continues as she wants to just now (S2). sad

wigglybeezer Tue 09-Oct-12 19:43:09

In some councils they seem to be leaving it up to headteachers.

In my older Ds's school they are going with the 3+3 model but are studying 10! subjects for third year, dropping to 8 for fourth year.

i am glad they have done this in some respects as DS1 would have dropped German at the end of second year if he had been able to, as he was struggling, but he is now predicted a B in nat5 if he continues as he is.

The down side is DS1 didn't have 10 subjects he liked or was good at and is very unmotivated in subjects he is planning to drop at the end of the year (and he keeps changing his mind about which 2 he will drop!).

There has been an influx of placing requests from schools where only 6 subjects are offered, if the headteacher's intention was to push his school budget up and poach academically ambitious children from other schools then he is succeeding.

Leonas Tue 09-Oct-12 19:50:44

Hi, as a teacher myself it is really hard even for us to say what will happen and/ or what will be best! As standard, pupils will sit Nat 4 in S3/4, Nat 5 in S4/5 and Highers in S5/6 depending on academic ability. We had this discussion at a meeting yesterday and it was suggested that some pupils could end up doing up to 15 subjects at Nat 4 as they will not be restricted by what level they take in each year.
At present, the whole situation is up in the air and I feel that the main problem is that there is very little that will be standard across Scotland - each region will make stand alone decisions which will not convert to other regions in pupils move school/ area.
Mind you, this is coming from someone who lives in an area which is planning converting 4 secondary schools to middle schools and building one gigantic 'super school' for S4-6 - go figure!

amck5700 Tue 09-Oct-12 21:51:12

In Stirling it is down to individual schools to cater for their pupil base.

Our school is doing 7 5's starting as soon as the exam leave starts for the upper school to ensure they have enough time. They reckon that they will be able to award 4s without exam for a lot of the subjects taken in 1-3rd year so that pupils could end up at the end of 4th year with 7 5's and some 4s depending what subjects they took at 5 (for example if they didn't choose to do PE then they should still be able to have a 4 in it without exam. They also think that they should be able to get most a 3 in a second language too!

Their view is that to limit choice to only 5 subjects is effetively getting them to choose their Highers while in 3rd year.

Spanner21 Thu 02-May-13 16:15:47

This subject seems to have gone off the boil and I wonder if it's because parents don't have enough info on it and see it as a done deal. I'm trying to find out how many councils / schools are allowing more than 6. All the parents I've spoken to think it's ridiculous that the number of qualifications is being reduced but nothing is being said or done. Any thoughts?

jennybeadle Thu 02-May-13 16:19:31

It does seem to vary wildly. Angus 6, but I've heard that in Dundee it will be Maths, English, one MFL then 4 others, so 7. Some Edinburgh only six. I think there is another thread somewhere with more up to date information.

3nationsfamily Thu 02-May-13 16:38:51

Our school in Edinburgh it is 8 but must include Maths/ English/Language/one science minimum. In general it is an academic school but for those small proportion who would struggle with 8 there are alternative options on vocational type programmes. Also everyone will do a Nat 4 in PE by way of their compulsory PE whether they also take it as a "subject" in its own right or not.

Celticlassie Thu 02-May-13 16:45:05

Our school will continue with 8, (as in Standard Grade). Either Nat 4 or 5 for the majority, and a few 3s.

Spanner21 Thu 02-May-13 16:45:22

We're being told in Aberdeen that, as Nat 5s are only studied in S4, ie over one year instead of two, there is no room in the timetable for more than 6 subjects. Are Edinburgh schools teaching the course over 1 year or 2? Thanks

Spanner21 Thu 02-May-13 16:46:23

Celticlassie, which council are you in?

haggisaggis Thu 02-May-13 16:56:09

Still make no sense to me. ds is in 2nd year and has had to choose subjects for 3rd year - but he then chooses again for 4th year - to me that seems like 3rd year is a complete waste of time. And yes, we're Angus so will need to start looking at university requirements next year - when he's only in 3rd year - to make sure he is on track to make the right choices....crazy.

Celticlassie Thu 02-May-13 17:00:56

Glasgow, but I don't know if that's standard across the council or only certain schools.

Spanner21 Thu 02-May-13 17:10:09

Haggisaggis, up here the kids narrow down to some degree for 3rd year then further again to 6 subjects for fourth year. I can't believe there's such a variation between councils across the land and then between schools within some of the councils. What about a level playing field?
Have parents in any areas actually tried to change the situatn? Nothing is being done by parents here but they're all ( in my experience) unhappy.

kaumana Thu 02-May-13 17:21:36

I'm in Edinburgh and my son in S2 has recently chosen his subjects. Eight in total which had to include English, maths and a foreign language from which he'll choose 5 to study for highers all going well in fifth year. If he struggles with a subject he has the option of taking n5 in fifth year and then the higher in sixth.

The school did say that they would prefer that highers were to be taken at one sitting as they were unsure as how the universities would look at applications which had combos of highers and n5 taken over a couple of years.

haggisaggis Thu 02-May-13 17:34:44

I think alot of parents don't understand teh implications. Went to one meeting where someone from Angus Council said something like "When i was at school most people already had some idea of what tehy wanted to do anyway and tended to mess around in teh subjects they wouldn't need...." At same meeting we were told how in 3rd year dc would need to choose their subjects and a "spare" in case they coudl not do one of their main subjects - tehy had no real answer when I pointed out that tehy were already cutting down things so drastically taht kids coudl be screwed if they couldn't get all their choices..

seb1 Thu 02-May-13 17:37:27

Here is our council info on it Renfrewshire

kaumana Thu 02-May-13 17:47:46

Seb1 Having read that, am I correct in saying that they only have one year to do the N5 followed by a year for highers? I found that document very confusing.

jennybeadle Thu 02-May-13 18:15:03

haggis I had heard that in one/some Angus schools they were getting to narrow down slightly in S3. At DD's the HT is insisting they must continue with ALL subjects till the end of S3. That means that academic DD has to keep on with DT, Home Ec etc even though there is not a cat's chance in hell that she'll be doing it at N5.

I've heard, but don't know for sure, that the reason there has been no outcry is because apart from parents just not realising, each of the political parties has had some hand in getting to the situation we're in now, and no one is willing to put their hand up.

Spanner21 Thu 02-May-13 18:59:01

Kaumana, yes they go to Nat 4 standard by the end of S3 then have a year to go to Nat5 and do Highers the year after. Supposedly the Nat5 helps with Highers more than old quals where a lot of people struggle with the step up. Also maths and English are not compulsory at Nat5! To my mind, kids should be being tested in a broad range of subjects at 16, not 6 as we will here.
To be honest, I think this isn't the fault of the government but the councils who do, after all, have the choice of teaching between 5 and 8 but have seen their opportunity to save money.

kaumana Thu 02-May-13 20:18:21

6 subjects is very limiting, basically you are having to choosing your Highers at a younger age than is necessary and as such narrowing further courses in FE etc.

I for example took physics and chemistry, which I was good at in S1/2 but realised ( too late) that the sciences did not really hold my interest. Luckily, being able to take 8 meant that I had 5 others to choose from to study for the Higher.

I would not be happy with 6 choices.

Also, as no one as seen the N5 papers ( have they?) it is hard to say how steep the learning curve is from the N5 to H.

Spanner21 Thu 02-May-13 20:45:53

Completely agree - these kids are choosing their Highers in S3. I think the SQA has published specimen papers bow on their website. For more info the Nat Parent Forum of Scotland is quite good and, for the record, the chairman doesn't think 6 is enough!

In our school they are doing 7 chosen at the end of third year for National 5 but they expect to be able to award national 4 in a number of subjects at the end of S3 without external examination e.g. PE, Music, a language etc so the expect that by the end of S4 pupils will have 7 subjects at 5 and 3 or 4 additional subjects at National 4.

The council allows schools to decide themselves I think. Another school in the council area had intended offering only 5. The head mistress has mysteriously left and been replaced with the deputy from my son's school.

Everyone moves into their new year on Tuesday to ensure that there is enough time in the curriculum to fit it all in.

Oh, and son is about to move to 2nd year, but they do 10/11 subjects at the moment and will do to the end of S3 - I think other schools start with about 14 subjects and then narrow it down in S2 and/or S3. I think that is how the can award the National 4s, as they will have done the requisite number of hours required for the topics.

kaumana Thu 02-May-13 21:57:34

Please correct me if I have got this wrong. All N4 apart from maths are marked internally and there is no grading just a pass or no national given.

Tbh as an employer this alone would make N4s null and void. For example to apply for an apprenticeship with us you must have English and Maths at a credit level pass at least.

I think that is correct kuamana - I think if my kids were less academic that would concern me more. I look at the awarding of the 4s as a bonus so that they get some credit for completing subjects that they wont be taking any further - My son's school used to do early presentations for Maths and English at 3rd year anyway as most kids go on to take them at Higher anyway so I guess in the past, they grades they got for these subjects at Standard grade were probably a little lower than they would have got if they'd taken them at the end of 4th year.

Meant to add that theoretically there could be children leaving school having never been externally assessed. Not sure how I would feel about that.

RhondaJean Thu 02-May-13 22:28:36

I've just spotted this so going to pitch in a bit. I work in education although I am not a teacher, I also have a daughter in s2 going into s3. We are in south Ayrshire and in s3 she has chosen 12 subjects which she will then narrow to 7 in s2. All south ayrshire schools except one are doing this; one school felt their pupils would struggle with 7 and so have decided on 6 subjects in s4.

The question of less scqf level4/5 qualifications than offered in previous years was raised at a parents evening I attended and the head (who is working on a cfe secondment and is pretty close to national policy) stated that university admissions work on higher qualifications and not scqf level 4/5. He had copies of statements from several universities saying that they would consider candidates on the basis of their higher results and -pay attention here! - their extracurricular activities and other broader qualifications eg d of e etc.

The concept is that in s3 young people still consider a broad curriculum and then in s4 focus on accreditation on their chosen subjects. They will have 12 subjects studied in s3 and potentially can pick one of those up again in s5 to gain accreditation whereas previously they chose 8 subjects in s3 and they couldn't pick another subject back up in s5, therefore the new system effectively extends the options available to them in senior phase rather than restricting it.

I realise there is a lot of concern about cfe but my viewpoint is that it is a progressive step for Scottish education and offers young people much more control over their learning. It's focused on developing skills and abilities and the national 4s take the pressure of external examinations away from young people. I'm nervous my daughter is one of the "test" years and I realise it's a massive change in mindset for many of the teaching staff but I have complete confidence in the principles behind cfe and the support which is available for teaching staff from education Scotland is spot on.

There is really no need to panic over how many subjects your children will have accredited in s4 as being an issue for their future uni applications.

seb1 Thu 02-May-13 22:36:28

Kuamana this is info from our school handbook, they do 8 subjects in S3, 7 subjects in S4 (in addition to the seven subjects studied pupils will be presented for a SQA Personal Development Award either at National 4 or National 5 level) and 5 subjects in S5. For S6 pupils there is more flexibility in their choice of study and pupils will choose from a diet of Highers, Advanced Highers, Enterprise, Leadership etc. All S4/S5 pupils are expected to continue to study Mathematics and English.

Thanks Rhondajean that is very helpful. I think that the ability to pick subjects back up again will be a useful one. We were looking at the subject choices available to this years 3rd years and already thinking that when you take out maths and English to fill 2 slots there were much more subjects that my sons would want to take than available slots to take them. They would want to do 3 sciences and that effectively leaves 2 subjects free. So you end up thinking that they are going to ditch languages and things they would enjoy e.g. Art in favour of subjects that they "should" take e.g History/Geography.

It's all too hard - just as well we have nearly 2 years to think about it!!

Preferthedogtothekids Thu 02-May-13 23:38:52

We are in Fife. My daughter is a 3rd yr moving into 4th soon and her year are being allowed to take all 8 of their 3rd yr choices at National 4/5. The following year group, however, are only being allowed 7 subjects in 4th year. I don't think the Council had actually decided until very recently what their stance was going to be so they didn't want to upset the first chort of CfE.

jennybeadle Fri 03-May-13 10:29:44

Rhondajean I don't think anyone here is concerned about the value of the CfE, rather that some councils are allowing more subjects than others. It is a complete red herring to suggest that topics can be returned to later in school life, because at DD1s school at least, the school cannot accommodate any more than 6 N5s, 5 Highers, and 3 Advanced Highers.

There will be no returning to pick up a language, or music or art, or history for my DD. The school has no intention of providing for it, and are already talking about sending children by bus to the next town for "niche" (their words most certainly not mine) subjects such as - wait for it - physics. That travelling time will be taken from the school day, and is time when they will not be being taught anything.

Of course, plenty of people "in education" will be able to say that it is a huge success. I fully expect our council to be shouting from the roof tops that they have fabulous N5 results next year, and the year after. Meanwhile a number of pupils are leaving school with only internally assessed courses, and many more are effectively forced to chose their Higher subjects, and therefore whole future education in S3.

What the universities are saying is of course absolutely correct. T'was always thus. My concern is that those children with more options at N5 will be more sure of their Higher options, and making better choices, with the resultant better grades.

If my DD were being taught 5 miles from here we would be in another authority and she could have 7 subjects at N5. I would be much much less concerned.

soontobeslender 3 sciences will not be an option at DD1's school. The HT insists this is not a problem. They no longer have a great record of getting DCs into high tariff courses such as medicine or vet medicine. I can't see that changing any time soon. sad

jenny - tbf the reason that they can offer 3 sciences is because of the type of teachers they have - they struggle to offer more than one language as they don't hav ethe staff and there is a National shortage of Home Ec teachers so I am told. I think with having smaller High Schools - ours has under 800 pupils, it is really restricting what subjects are available to pupils. My boys are both pretty clever (feel a bit embarrassed saying that, I'm not boasting) so the school suits us. although they are both keen readers and do really well in English, they love Maths, Sciences, computers etc so the available subjects will suit them I think. No2 son is also good with language so I guess he will head down a path that he maybe wouldn't have chosen but not one he is unsuited to. We shall just have to wait and see. This is No1 son's last day in 1st year and No2 son starts at High school after the summer so it is not quite real for us yet but coming very soon!

jennybeadle Fri 03-May-13 11:15:19

soontobeslender That's a really good point about school size, which I hadn't considered. DD1s school is also under 800 pupils. DD1 is also pretty academic (top of her year last year, definitely not a boast either!) and I suppose that is why I am so sad and frustrated for her. She does well in everything, and loves everything.

I know she'd have to prioritise no matter where she went, but with the options presented to the current S3 for N5, she'd have to drop art, and a science, and history. All of which she loves, meanwhile in S3 she'll be forced to continue really appalling Home Ec classes just in the name of continuing a "broad general education". Some narrowing for S3 might have made a huge different for her.

I know - when I was at school we had loads of choices - Geology, Russian, Catonese, and loads of other things as well as the standard stuff but then there were over 400 in my year never mind the school. There are only 5 or 6 classes per year now at my son's school - they just can't offer as much as they only have so many teachers. sad

Spanner21 Fri 03-May-13 14:26:36

I agree with RhondaJean about uni applications looking mainly at Highers but I do worry that these kids are still going to have to explain to unis and employers why they only have 6 quals at age 16, when many of their contemporaries have 8. And will they all want to take the time to listen? CfE, we keep being told, is about producing young people who are rounded - to my mind, that means continuing the 'Broad General Education' until 16. Also CfE is supposed to be about tailoring to the individual, so why haven't we got flexibility in the number of subjects kids can study as well as the standard they study at? The base line for employers and further education has always been O grade standard qualifications - now an externally assessed qual in Maths and English aren't compulsory???

Anyexcuse Sun 05-May-13 08:17:06

I could be wrong and tbh haven't read all the posts but is it not possible that the concern over how many subjects you can choose is actually because English and Maths, and possibly, in at least 1 school I know of French, are required subjects and therefore not 'chosen'. This would bring you up to the 7 or 8 you might expect. This is certainly the case in the 2 schools I know of, in Stirlingshire.

I'm in stirling too smile. Our 7 includes English and maths. The school that was offering 5 wasn't. It is now offering 7 after the change of leadership at the school. The papers we were shown seemed to show the standard cfe programme would be 6 in total, so I think that is probably what a lot of schools are doing.

Spanner21 Tue 07-May-13 09:03:58

Yes, it's definitely 6 including English and maths for us in Aberdeen.

PurpleFrog Wed 08-May-13 14:09:46

We are in Fife. My dd is in S3 and will be doing 6 subjects for National 5 - starting beginning of June. That was the maximum the school said that they could do in light of the number of hours required for an N5 course. Maths and English were recommended but not compulsory. Fortunately, my dd knows what she wants to do, and is happy with only 6 choices.

I have talked to parents or looked at the web pages for the other 2 secondaries in the area. One is offering 6 choices, but wants the pupil to nominate now which ones that they want to carry on to Higher! The other is offering 7, but I suspect that means that they started the N5 syllabus in Maths and English a year early.

Purple, our school has started the 4th year curicculum this week to give them the requisite number of hours for 7 subjects - they have basically squeezed the extra hours from the Broad general education - they said it was tight but they have left just enough hours free for sports day and school show etc. I don't think they are allowed to start the N5 syllabus a year early as they still need to do the BGE hours........and last I'd heard they were still struggling to find out what it was for Maths!!

PurpleFrog Wed 08-May-13 15:34:58

Hmmm - dd's school has spent 20 periods per week on BGE for the last 2 yrs, and 10 periods per week on elective enrichment courses. They could easily have devoted some time to giving pupils a head start on N5 in core subjects. Actually, they have reduced the number of elective enrichment courses for next years S3, but will be allowing the same number of N5s as far as I can gather.

Whatever way you look at it, the present S3 do not have the choices that subsequent years will have, as the courses/exams are not available at all levels.

nohalfmeasures Wed 08-May-13 15:57:05

Are you sure it's not 5 subjects plus core subjects of maths and English which makes 7?
Also it's not a council thing, some schools around here are offering more than others. One school near here changed after pressure from parents & general uproar when they found the neighbouring school was offering more.
I have grave concerns about this new curriculum. My children in primary school seem to spend much of their time assessing their learning rather than actually learning IYSWIM. And this thing about everyone learning at their own pace just allows weak teachers to get away with doing very little. If the children don't progress much then it's because they are "learning at their own pace". For good teachers I think it will work better in the primary school setting
It's very, very worrying.

I'm afraid I don't know into that level of detail as my son was in first year until Tuesday this week when they moved them all forward. They have a 30 period week too.

5 x English
4 x Maths
4 x Science
3 x social subjects (History/Georgraphy/Modern studies)
2 x Music
2 x Art
2 x Tech
3 x French
2 x PE
2 x RE
1 x Home Ec

I might be able to link some of the info from their school about the choices etc. I'll away and look.

If you have a look at the last few slides on this presentation, it shows roughly what the schools are doing:

www.dunblanehighschool.org.uk/images/stories/dhs/documents/Primary%20Info%20Evening%20DPS%20Oct%202012.pdf

KristinaM Wed 08-May-13 16:12:49

My DD is just about to move into 3rd year at the end of may

They are allowed to take 8 subjects at n4/5 , 9 if they want to do PE studies as they can do that in their core PE time

Compulsory subjects are

English
Maths
French
Core PE
One social subject
One science

Then the usual choices of other sciences and languages, , music, drama, art, various computing and technical subjects , RMPS, etc

I'd be interested to see how they are managing to do that Kristina, do you have access to any on-line info about it?

I just find it amazing that the schools are basically interpreting the brief very differently from each other - I worry that they are gambling with the future of a lot of young people.

KristinaM Wed 08-May-13 16:27:28

Do you mean the number of periods allocated to each subject? I will have that in a few weeks once DD gets her new timetable

Sorry I don't think there's anything online except on the school website, which obviously I don't want to link to

okay, thanks. I linked to mine above to show how the standard route a lot of schools are taking versus what ours is doing - they are saying that to get the requisite hours in for 7 subjects @N5, they are starting 4th year as early as they can without compromising the hours they need to do for the BGE. However yourself and a few others I think have said that they will be allowed up to 8, just wondered how they are mananging to fit it in. I think even 7 seems to be quite hard to limit down to - if they do Maths, English and 3 sciences for example then that only leaves 2 subjects to choose - so, do they give up Art, a Language, Geography, History etc. I know my son would like to do Something with his art/computer side too so I think it makes it hard to get a rounded balance. I am already looking to see what ones he could pick up in 5th or 6th year instead. Very hard I think.

prettybird Wed 08-May-13 17:25:09

Looks like 7 at ds' school. He's only in S1, so I haven't had to go in to the detail yet.

However, I do know that one of the East Kilbride schools makes their S1s make choices as to what they are going to do in S2 and start specialising then! shockhmm

One of his friends at that EK school is already having to choose which "type" of science she is going to do in S2 - so having to think now about what she would be wanting to do at Uni hmm Far too soon. Ds, on the other hand, will still be doing "Science" in S2 and will only specialise to Physics and/or Chemistry and/or Biology in S3.

KristinaM Wed 08-May-13 20:17:52

Yes we have the same problem with science. Dd is thinking about medicine so she has to do chemistry and biology. They have 4 compulsory of eng, maths , French and a social subject . So that only leaves her 2 columns -one of the computing type subjects and one of the creative arts ones . Plus PE

If you only have seven subjects that's limiting the choice even further

I don't understand how her school can do 9 subjects and others only 7.

KristinaM Wed 08-May-13 20:20:37

Though having seen tonight's trig homework they seem to be pushing them already . Either that or I am very dim as I can't do second year maths blush. I've no idea how I got a higher some time in the last century

kaumana Wed 08-May-13 21:02:40

It seems that my DS (S2) has been following the CfE curriculum in maths and English for the past year. Makes sense as the year above are doing so. They have had mock exams at N5 level this term

PurpleFrog Thu 09-May-13 08:51:35

I was very surprised when I saw dd's option sheet earlier this year. Although they are limited to 6 subjects, they have complete free choice across the board. I will be very surprised if they manage to timetable this for everyone!

S3Worries Thu 09-May-13 12:40:38

Our local school has 4 options which combined with compulsory English and Maths gives 6 subjects for S3.

6 is far too restrictive in my opinion for a 14 year old. They are effectively choosing their Higher subjects.

Each school seems to be inventing it's own course systems (our local school isn't planning to present pupils for National 5 exams.) This pick and mix approach to (supposedly national) exams can only cause problems for employers and Universities.

I don't understand how it has been allowed to develop this way. I think it is very poor but most parents irl don't seem to mind! Or is everyone else too polite to say anything?

S3Worries Thu 09-May-13 12:43:06

Sorry my error " 6 subjects for S4".

I was carried away with putting 6 in bold. I'll just add 6shock for good measure.

so, if they are not presenting pupils for N5 exams, what are they doing? confused

N4s can be internally assessed if the schools curriculum is signed off as appropriate and they are deemed competent to assess (so I understand) but I didn't know that was an alternate route to N5 exams.

S3Worries Thu 09-May-13 13:03:55

They are not presenting for external exams until Higher.

S3Worries Thu 09-May-13 13:04:28

shock

Our head is actually very enthusiastic about it all. He says that the standard model is 6 but they believe that doing it they way they are, that they can support 7 - but why some have chosen 5 and how some are saying 8 I have no idea.

You would think that if the standard model is 6, then that should be set as the minimum at least.

It is strange how they are all doing different things, I am not sure how much sharing has been done across authorities or schools within authorities. I guess that schools are sometimes playing to their strengths depending on their catchment but surely the whole ethos is about people developing their full potential and I'm not sure that this is ticking all the boxes any mnore than the previous system was.

S3Worries Thu 09-May-13 13:09:56

To be clear I should say there are to be different pathways so if they don't consider Higher in S5 is appropriate then there is a two-year N5 course, i.e examined in S5. Then there are the internally asssessed N4 courses.

S3Worries - shock indeed!!!!!

S3Worries Thu 09-May-13 13:19:13

It's the "all [schools] doing different things " that gets me wondering tbh. I can't see it lasting but our children are the guinea pigs.

A couple of years ago a parent said to me of the new curriculum "Well at the end they will all sit the same exams." But that won't be the case, it will depend on which High School you attend.

thefirstmrsrochester Thu 09-May-13 13:23:11

8 nationals in my dc school. This includes English and Maths. On top of the 8 nations there will be PE, PSE & possibly RE as enhancement classes. The timetable is being altered to accommodate this but I'm hmm re them fitting it all in.

Groovee Fri 10-May-13 17:08:27

Dd is about to go into 2nd year in 3 weeks and has already had to choose her subject. They have to do Maths/English/French then she has chosen Creative Media Design, Modern Studies, Home Economics, Biology and an enriched subject which had a wide variety and she has chosen "Be the Boss" She'll also need to do PE as a compulsary but unless she has chosen it, then doesn't get an exam in it.

They reckon she'll sit National 5's due to mostly 1's and 2's in all area's so far. They said the National 4's will still be a qualification for those who would have been in foundation classes.

Spanner21 Sat 11-May-13 19:58:27

S3Worries, I'd be VERY worried if school isn't going to present for N5s in S4 a it basically means those leaving at 16 leave without any externally assessed quals.

Number of subjects is supposed to be determined at school level but most councils seem to have made the decision for schools. I find too in Aberdeen that everyone you speak to is worried but nobody is saying anything - I think because they have no info. I'm wondering if an e-petition is the way forward here to attain equality throughout the country....

Groovee Sat 11-May-13 20:07:00

I'd sign a petition as it's unfair on those who are only allowed 5 while others do 8! Also a lot more pressure on those sitting 8 compared to the ones sitting 5! Equality is the way forward.

thefirstmrsrochester Sat 11-May-13 20:19:47

Grovee, is it 5 national 4s which they choose themselves plus the compulsories - maths & english?

As I understood it, the difference between the standard grades and the nationals were that if, at the end of 4th year, you were not ready to sit the national 5 exams, you continue with it into 5th ear and do it at the end of that academic year. That would benefit the kids who would otherwise leave at end of sS4, considering there are hardly any jobs & precious few apprenticeships on the go for them.

I actually think it is okay up to a point for not all schools to be doing the same, but I think there should be an agreed minimum offered/timetabled. So, if the timetable can cope with, say 8 subjects then as a minimum 6 of those should be offered at national 5 - less able students could aim for 4 but follow the same curriculum - if it was felt that they were able to sit the 5 exam then fine, if not they could be assessed for a 4 internally with the option of doing the 5 in 5th year. The remaining slots could either be used by doing something the school can't offer e.g. a vocational topic or maybe something at another nearby school, or they could be used to take 1 or more National 5s.

I am sure it would be a nightmare to organise, but it would give the kids some better options.

kaumana Sat 11-May-13 20:58:26

IME my year groups parents (S2) across different schools in Edinburgh seem not to have a clue about the N4/5s. Though the schools have all had meetings on CfE, parents have come away completely befuzzled on what it actually means eg too much jargon speak.

Some believe it is just a renaming of the current exams.

Currently my DS school will sit some exams next week re setting for N4/5 in some core subjects ie put on the pathway to sit the N4 or N5 in S4. I've heard almost no comments on this.

PurpleFrog Sat 11-May-13 20:58:51

hefirstmrsrochester - Maths and English are not compulsory!

kaumana Sat 11-May-13 21:03:10

Maths, English + Foreign language were at ours.

thefirstmrsrochester Sat 11-May-13 21:21:35

Maths & English compulsory in our region. The whole set up of the new system is to deliver a broad general education. If you get to opt out of maths and English, you are shutting the door to the majority of further and higher education.

Groovee Sat 11-May-13 21:33:44

I don't know, I'm presuming they are attempting to go the way of GCSE's where some pupils get 5 and some get 10!

The way it was explained at the individual parents nights was, that National 5's were credit level. Then if they gained those they could move on to highers. When we went to the S1 meeting, they'd only just received the guidelines and couldn't tell us anything.

But Edinburgh seem to be allowing each school to make decisions as to what suits the school's needs. All of us within my friendship group have different ways of it being done and introduced.

Maths/English/French/Science choice/Social Subject/culture-art seem to be the "core" at ours with choices in various others. Dd is annoyed as Business Studies and Home Ec are in the same column and she didn't fancy the "technical" subject column.

I still feel at just turned 13 she's having to make choices young. As someone who's standard grades were in business and computing subjects and I am a Nursery Nurse! But there were no "vocational" type subjects offered.

PurpleFrog Sat 11-May-13 21:43:55

At dd's school Maths and English are recommended, not compulsory in S4.

Apparently numeracy and literacy are supposed to be covered in all subjects at N4/N5 level. hmm

kaumana Sat 11-May-13 21:56:38

Purple That's shocking as I've mentioned above to get on a modern apprenticeship with us, you have to have both at a decent pass. The higher the better.

prettybird Sat 11-May-13 22:08:36

But hasn't it always been unequal?

When I was sitting "O" grades and Highers (over 30 years ago) we were allowed by our (state school) to sit 8-10 "O" grades (I "only" did 8, but that was because I was still catching up, having been abroad for 2 years and only returned 6 months before the exams) and then a whole group of us sat 6 "Highers" in 5th Year and some of that group also did at least one extra "O" grade at the same time.

I do agree that it seems wrong that some schools seem to be restricting choices and/or expecting children to specialise far too early sad.

In contrast, ds has just got his extremely good S1 school report home and in the Science comments, it specifically says "Keep up the good work and enthusiasm most of all. In second year also try and focus on which science or sciences you are particularly interested in with regard to your option choices at the end of that year."

prettybird - we were only allowed 8 o grades and 5 highers - no idea how they fitted any more into the timetable!

Well done on the report - we got No1 son's report yesterday too - very proud mum and dad - seems he wasn't exaggerating when he said he that he was doing great! He doesn't have to choose until Jan of 3rd year but it's going to be tough as he seems to be good at everything (sounds a bit boasty but don't mean to be) Going from personal experience, i'd say Biology is a good one to pick up later as it is (or was) much easier than Chemistry or Physics and not sure now if computing science counts in the science box or tech box.

prettybird Sat 11-May-13 22:55:17

But isn't that the point? some schools did, even back then, and some didn't.

In retrospect, I don't know how they fitted them in either - and I even had a couple of free periods, during which I studied Russian! shock (friends actually did the Russian "O" grade alongside their Highers, but I was still twitchy about "catching up") . I think they did things that wouldn't be accepted now, like allow us to drop all PE and non-Academic subjects, even in 4th year.

We weren't doing "fluff" subjects - at least 6 of us did Maths,Physics, Chemistry, English, French, Latin (or German) - and most of us got 6 As.

prettybird Sat 11-May-13 22:58:53

I think you're right about Biology - iirc, that was one of the reasons my friends stayed on to do 6th year, so that they could add Biology to their exam passes before going on to Medical/Vet school.

That was tough going! I wasn't that clever....well actually I have no idea if i was that clever tbh. I was brought up the youngest of a large family on a rough council estate - my parents left "all that school stuff" to the school to deal with. I was never encouraged or pushed and nothing much was expected - it wasn't their fault, that's just the way it was then for a lot of families. I took and passed 8 o grades and took and passed 4 highers and another o grade in 5th year tho really i only stayed on because I couldn't get a job. I never studied or made that much effort really, so maybe I could have done a lot better with a bit of motivation and hard work.

S3Worries Sat 11-May-13 23:16:23

prettybird my issue is that the number of subjects in S4 is down to 6.; for every student regardless of ability. As you point out there has always been inequality of opportunity between schools but this seems a retrograde step, especially for the academically able.

s3worries - i think it is more of an issue for the academically in-between. The more able will do their Highers or (National 6/7s when they are ready) so the 5s become almost irrelevant. The less able will do 4s and be in much the same position as they would have been with foundation/general standards albeit with no external exam. The in-between kids may end up leaving education with 6 n5s instead of 7/8 standard grades.

The hardest bit for the more able kids in that situation is that they will need to be awfully sure of what highers they want to do at least a year earlier than they used to.

S3Worries Sat 11-May-13 23:30:50

I have heard the argument that the standard grades "don't matter" for those who do Highers but if you are interested in languages and sciences and the humanities why shouldn't you be able to study them all at the age of 14/15?

And as soontobe says why does a pupil with ability in all areas have to choose at the end of S3?

S3Worries Sat 11-May-13 23:33:50

And I forgot to mention music and art. oops!

kaumana Sat 11-May-13 23:38:48

What worries me is that there will be teens leaving at the age of sixteen with only N4 of which as an employer I would not be interested in.

I agree with the above, narrowing of subject choice at such an early age is not a good thong.

S3 I agree, I'd much prefer a wider range of subjects as isn't this the ethos of the whole thing? That it's about creating rounded citizens? Even with the 7 on offer at our school, i still think that is a struggle and a child with an ability across all subjects will find it hard to narrow down their options - I've no idea how those with only 5 or 6 choices are going to manage sad

I wouldn't like to speculate on the exact reasons, but the head of a school in our area who was proposing only 5 N5s strangely disappeared and was replaced as Head by the deputy of a school offering 7 - they are now offering 7 as well. It is maybe worth a protest to the council/education authority for those parents who find themselves in a similar situation.

S3Worries Sat 11-May-13 23:53:29

Sadly I'll be protesting to no-one as I believe it would get me precisely nowhere. There is not a groundswell of opinion on this among parents I know.

I'm hoping we look back in a few years and wonder why we were so worried. My boys are both fairly academic so I am not that worried, just a bit disappointed that their choice will be limited to 7 subjects. However, i know that others have it much worse and i worry that it is all still a bit "finger in the air".

maybe it's because people don't understand?

S3Worries Sun 12-May-13 00:01:00

Me too!

prettybird Sun 12-May-13 06:41:42

I agree with you about how awful it is that choice is being restricted too soon (and in some cases as early as S2 - S1 if you count when they have to make their choices) sadhmm

I couldn't decide between Arts & Sciences and very consciously did 3 of each - helping to make my choice about which subjects to drop easier.

You're also right about the more able being least able and it will probably be the middle kids who lose out the most - and more so at some schools than others. sad

Ds is already doing a period less a week of English and Maths than most of the others in his class to no (apparent) detriment as he is in the School of Rugby (so gets extra rugby sessions), so it is possible to juggle hours, when there is a will to do so.

Groovee Sun 12-May-13 10:05:55

Standard Grades meant you got 7/8 qualifications. Dh only has 3 O Grades. He's by no means stupid but refused to work.

I just feel because this hasn't been given time for the staff to take the curriculum change and learn about it in depth, doesn't give me very much confidence. The CfE has been introduced in early years for the last 7 years so I feel I have a good grasp on it compared to what is being introduced at High School level.

I'm saddened to read that employers seem reluctant to accept N4's as apparently it will still be a qualification but marked internally rather than externally.

KnitMinion Mon 13-May-13 01:41:30

I've been reading this thread over the past couple of days as I'm worried about the Curriculum for Mediocrity and how it will affect my kids in the years to come.

If anyone is interested, my old high school have a section on their website with links to responses from some of the Scottish universities as to how they will be looking at the new qualifications in terms of admission expectations. It's at portobellohighschool.org.uk/school-info/curriculum/cfe-overview

Their website seems to say that the kids will do 8 subjects in S3/4, just like they used to, while my local school says it will be doing 8 subjects in S3 and then narrowing down to 6 in S4 - and these schools are only about 3 miles apart!

PurpleFrog Mon 13-May-13 12:51:01

KnitMinion - thanks for that info. That cfe information from the Scottish Universities was not available when dd submitted her option form. (I know - I looked!) Luckily, there isn't anything there which would change dd's choices!

It really annoys me that many schools are not "playing by the rules". Surely, making choices at the end of S1 or S2 to limit the number of subjects studied goes completely against the ethos of BGE in the S1-S3 phase.

I agree purple - i think our school are playing it as it should be, 11 subjects (History/Geography and Modern studies are lumped into one, Science is all lumped together and so are tech subjects) until just before end of S3 - they are cheating slightly by starting S4 at the beginning of May in order to get the required hours for 7 N5s but I think I am happy enough with the stance they are taking - time will tell I guess.

KristinaM Mon 13-May-13 13:39:05

Problem with the BGE bit is that colleges and unis only offer places on the basis of exam grades and don't give a stuff about BGE. I know they pay lip service to extra curricular activities, duke of Edinburgh etc but I don't think they let in kids without the grades because they help at brownies etc

So it's not surprising that the schools are so focussed on exams passes at the expense of BGE

Most schools seem to move them up to the next year group now at the end of may.

jennybeadle Mon 13-May-13 14:12:25

DD1's school have done the move up to the next year in May since I was there 30 years ago! It's definitely not a CfE, or BGE thing here!

I think it's about making use of the space and teachers once the leavers have gone on study leave. It also allows for transition days (almost a week here, though it was longer in my time) for those coming from Primary.

yes, we moved up at the end of May in my day 30 odd years ago for all those reasons. But they have shifted it forward a full month to the beginning of May - giving them an extra 120 periods when they get into 4th year. Thats for CfE specifically as for each National 5 they have have a set number of hours in the curriculum - they can only squeeze in 7 by adding in those extra periods.

Colleges etc will not take account of BGE any more than they took account of 1st/2nd year before so that hasn't really changed. Some colleges will obviously be interested in National 4s/5s - Unis not interested in 4s but might want to see 5s to show breadth depending on Highers passed etc.

jennybeadle Mon 13-May-13 14:33:32

Which brings us back to the OPs original point. There will be no breadth for many children, who have a maximum of 5 or in our case 6 N5s allowed. Fine if you are on 7 or 8, but not in this area. sad

yeah i agree jenny - that's why I think there should be flexibility but a minimum standard. I still think it will be the middle achievers who have the potential to be discriminated most from the system.

Groovee Mon 13-May-13 17:13:48

Stupid question - I'm tired - What is BGE?

Groovee - It's Broad General Education - what they are supposed to do for years 1-3

Spanner21 Tue 18-Jun-13 16:17:17

Attended a meeting last night in Aboyne which was a forum with Alasdair Allan, the Minister for Learning. He is under the illusion that schools across Scotland ARE offering up to eight subjects in accordance with pupils' abilities. He appeared to have no idea whatsoever that local authorities have imposed blanket restriction across entire areas. The majority of the evening was occupied with this issue and, at the end, it was requested that those who objected to the imposition of 6 subjects raise their hand. Guess what? Every hand in the room went up (c. 200).
Remember, these qualifications are worth exactly the same as a Std Grade Credit, no more.

A parent from an Aberdeenshire school has set up a FaceBook page called Curriculum for Excellence - Parents' Voice. Please like and share it and we might start to get the message across.

S4Worries Tue 18-Jun-13 16:27:42

We are not in Aberdeenshire.

I have to say it is not our local authority that is setting the 4 choices/ 6 subjects in S4 but the individual school! It's no way to run a national education system.

S4Worries Tue 18-Jun-13 16:41:01

It is surprising that the minister with responsibility for CfE wasn't aware of the variability of the senior phase across schools.shock

Spanner21 Tue 18-Jun-13 17:59:15

He knew it varied between schools but the point of it is that the school is supposed to decide what best fits their community but what's actually happened is (most of) the councils have dictated to the all the schools in their areas. How can they say one size fits all though? Surely every school has a cross section of pupils of differing abilities.

Can't you fight the school's decision?

It's all so frustrating, isn't it??

Spanner21 Tue 18-Jun-13 18:00:42

It doesn't matter if you're not from that area (for FB page), we need this to go across the country.

S4Worries Tue 18-Jun-13 19:40:23

Spanner thanks for clearing that up. I'll try to get my teenager to help me with the FB!

I'm coming at this from a slightly different viewpoint in that I think it's poor for any school to be imposing an upper limit of 6 subjects for all of their 14/15 year olds.

We have been told that our head's interpretation of CfE senior phase is just what it should be. The carrot offered is that the most able of the pupils will come away with 6 Highers.

Spanner21 Tue 18-Jun-13 20:44:04

Agree with you entirely about imposing limits - it's just not enough to have 6. Why on earth are schools talking about 6 Highers when they complain about S4-S5 transition being so hard for 5 Highers, never mind 6? There are so many anomalies......

Spanner21 Wed 19-Jun-13 13:34:21

Further to a couple of articles in our local paper this week,the national press and media are now expressing interest in running this subject with Mike Russell now being challenged. However, they need evidence that this is not just a local problem so, if any of you guys who live outside Aberdeenshire are willing to give a short comment (anonymous if you want) to The Herald, would you please go to the Facebook page called Curriculum for Excellence - Parents' Voice and leave a comment to that effect. Thanks!

Spanner21 Wed 19-Jun-13 19:32:01
ShetlandJohn Fri 21-Jun-13 09:41:58

Here in Shetland we've suffered decades of financial mismanagement by an assortment of councillors. This has lead to massive budget cuts being imposed right across education from Nursery all the way to the end of the S-phase. That's problem 1.

Problem 2 is the way our schools are set up - we have a collection of Junior High schools teaching up to the end of S4 who then feed into the main Anderson High school to complete the S-phase. In order to level the playing field (and not have to recruit/pay for more teaching staff, see Problem 1), the council's Education department have decided that 7 subjects is "Sufficient". Despite the fact that the Anderson currently offers 8 subjects at Standard-grade. Despite the fact that the Anderson has said it is happy to continue with 8 subjects at N4/5. And despite the fact that the Parent Council is pushing for 8 subjects. There is little or no engagement with the parents, the parent council or the teachers as far as I can see, it's simply being railroaded through.

I don't want my kids in an education system that is "Sufficient". If you read the policy statements from the universities it is going to be incredibly difficult for Scottish kids to get into Edinburgh - and your chances of getting into a university outside of Scotland are getting slimmer under CfE.

Look at that number: 7 choices. Well they're not choices, are they. Of those 7, 1 will be maths, 1 English and another a modern language. So that's only 4 choices in the end. You want to do 3 sciences? Go fish.

I'm so unhappy with this system, and with the fact that my eldest daughter would be in the guinea pig year of N4/5, that I'm looking at boarding her in England where she will be able to study all 3 sciences and a good range of other GCSEs, go on to study A-levels and be able to attend any university she wants to. I'm an ex-pat Yorkshireman, so I'm even considering bailing out of Scotland altogether.

I've written to every single one of my MSPs, the Scottish Education minister and all the appropriate councillors up here on Shetland. They can't deny people are unhappy with what's being forced upon them. Waht good will come of it, we can but see.

2rebecca Sun 23-Jun-13 13:26:28

My son's private school is still allowing kids to choose 6 subjects (in addition to compulsary maths and English) in form 3. Some subjects are being done at intermediate 2 level (as Int 2s unaffected by the abolition of standard grades) and some at Nat4/5 with all exams being sat at the end of 4th year then up to 5 highers in form 5 as before. It's a mish mash but at least subject choice and breadth isn't affected.
My daughter's state school (she chose to go to local state school) is only offering 6 in total all at Nat4/5 sat in year 4 with up to 5 highers in year 5.
If we'd known when we applied for schools that state school pupils would be disadvantaged like this we'd have put more pressure on my daughter to go to my son's school. Hopefully it will make little practical difference as when they apply to university they will be largely judged on their higher grades and their potential at advanced higher but it does narrow down my daughter's choices earlier than my son's, although he is older and sat standard grades.

Spanner21 Mon 24-Jun-13 11:57:21
S4Worries Fri 28-Jun-13 15:20:30

2rebecca will your son's school move from Intermediate 2 to new National exams in the following years? (As I believe Int 2 is to be abolished a year after Standard Grade.)

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