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!

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

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