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!

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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