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Education - Scotland - Curriculum for Excellence

(73 Posts)
Roseformeplease Wed 21-Mar-12 10:33:41

Anyone have any views on this? Pupils currently in S2 are going to be guinea pigs for the new qualifications which they will sit in 2014 and yet schools still only have these qualifications in draft form. Anyone else concerned?

kaumana Fri 13-Apr-12 22:45:14

crossed posts

kaumana Fri 13-Apr-12 22:59:37

I am not afraid of change but this seems to be a backward step. I deal with teens who are trying to get into the workplace, I can't see how this can help. Feel free to enlighten me.

bookbird Fri 13-Apr-12 23:03:01

To add, no course requires 3 sciences. In fact, to study medicine at Glasgow, entry requirements are AAAAB in S5. Chemistry and Biology and Maths OR Physics are required, but they do expressly mention that Chemistry or Biology can be sat as a "crash" Higher in S6.

bookbird Fri 13-Apr-12 23:12:43

Future school leavers will leave school equipped with skills to help them get into the workplace and they will know they have these skills. That I guarantee.

I was speaking to some S6 pupils recently who were talking about their projects at Advanced Higher and how difficult they are. They said "it's alright for the s2s, they are getting used to all this project work, we've never done it before".

kaumana Fri 13-Apr-12 23:26:03

< takes head in hands and weeps>

gomez Fri 13-Apr-12 23:43:57

Bookbird you sound like a politician. The 'three sciences' example was just that, an example not a core issue. The CfE is a retro step, it will limit choices for children, it's implementation is based on the whims of individual rectors and / or LAs. Children will have different opportunities and life paths depending on those whims.

The idea that offering a 2nd yr pupil the option of domestic science or technical studies is a good option is farcical.

What is wrong with a broad base of English, Maths, Modern Languages, Social Sciences, Sciences with creative opportunites in Art, Music, Design, taught and assessed at a level appropriate to the student ?

And why this nonsense of a wholly internally assessed 'qualification' really why? Stress and time for all concerned.

gomez Fri 13-Apr-12 23:51:43

Indeed highers will remain however if you are forced into 6 choices for Level 4 with no breadth and no idea what you want to do as an adult your chances of getting the 5 highers you will need in 5th yr to enter a high performing University on a high status course are markedly reduced. Further if you are in a school with a less than stellar academic performance the chances of those choices being open to you is unlikely. A two tier state education system based on demographics beckons.

And please don't assume my opposition is based on anything other than research and considered thought - it is not a comparison to my experience at school nor a resistance to change. I find that implication patronising to be honest.

gomez Fri 13-Apr-12 23:59:35

Sorry for harping on Bookbird but here is a straightforward question :

Under the CfE will it be possible for every state pupil in Scotland to achieve if able by the end of 5th yr 8 standard grades equivalents and 5 highers?

bookbird Sat 14-Apr-12 08:59:35

Not a politician gomez. I'm on here as a mumsnet user knowledgable in this field trying to answer parents questions and that's what I have been trying to do. 3 sciences isn't a core issue - but it's been a core issue on this thread.

Every child should cover up to 11 subject areas to the end of S3 before they then make qualification choices. Will every child be able to do 8 qualifications in S4, then 5 in S5? No and that's not the intention of CfE, but you know that.

Internal assessment is not new - colleges internally assess, universities internally assess, internal assessment already happens in schools.

can I ask, are you a parent with a child in S2?

Waswondering Sat 14-Apr-12 09:23:22

How will our pupils compare internationally if they have 6 qualifications at S4? Given that at GCSE there may be about 10, and I see a lot of international students who have 10+ subjects (usually "academic" by the way) before narrowing down for IB/Abitur etc? Will our pupils have the breadth of knowledge to compete with this?

gomez Sat 14-Apr-12 10:00:24

No Bookbird I don't have a child in S2.

So under the CfE children will not be able to achieve a broad range of qualification at Level 4 & 5 and into Higher by the end of 5th, as they currently can. To build from this base into 2 or 3 Advanced Highers. As waswondering mentions this is not an educational outcome comparable with other systems.

11 subjects upto s3 so will this always provide the option for those core elements I mentioned above? Although I am begun unfair as I know this is not the case.

An example S2 curriculum below - from a friends daughter's school in Edinburgh:

In S2 we offer the opportunity for students to personalise part of their curriculum and also offer choice in some areas.

All students will study English, Mathematics, Science, French, Social Education, PE and Religious & Moral Philosophy. They will continue to study a subject in Social Studies, Expressive Arts and Technologies but they will be able to choose which particular subject to study, from three options columns.

There is also the opportunity to personalise their curriculum by choosing from a wide range of Enrichment courses. Examples include; CDT Craftwork, Computer Games Design, Modern Studies, Music

Please explain how that can translate from the choices made by a 12/13 yr old into the 5As at Higher in 5th yr to study Medicine? Bearing in mind they will not have completed 1 full year at secondary school when making these choices, ability may not yet be clear and frankly they may not have a clue what they would like to do at 18 - be it Uni or anything else.

crosscountry Sat 14-Apr-12 11:25:23


Practical exercises and investigations were dropped from some Higher and Standard grade courses years ago- so nothing new.

Glasgow Uni prefer candidates for Dentistry to have the 3 sciences at S Grade.

Roseformeplease Sat 14-Apr-12 12:53:44

As I started this, here is my son's situation. NB very tiny school so options have always been limited. He is in S1 and will have a core in S2 and S3 of English, Maths, PE, RE (but we removed him from that - another story), PE and General Science. He will then choose History / Geog / Modern Studies and Art / Music and Physics / Biology and French / German / Gaelic and Home Ec / Tech / Chemistry. He is delighted by being given a choice at the end of S1 as he hates some subjects and is clever so finds himself irritated by some of them, particularly taking 6 months to drill some holes in a block of wood and learning to wash up! (Not joking!). In S3 he will sit nat5s in some of these subjects and in S4 he will sit a mixture of Highers and Nat 5, probably 6 subjects. This school has been doing standards grades in S3 for years and neither pupils or parents want it to change. Teachers (and I am one) are concerned about the drop in standards. The option to put pupils in early has only been lost as a blanket policy and so they will continue, with many pupils, to try to get them 8 subjects at Nat4 or Nat5 and then 6 subjects at Nat5 or Higher, depending on ability. The school gets excellent results with Highers in S4 in many subjects and hopes not to lose this. As for this Broad General Education,they will make up for gaps through project work and so forth.

In my opinion, it is the lack of clarity on the exams which is a problem. I am happy with schools choosing what to do but aware that this is only because I am happy with what my children will get (other child in P6). I am very concerned about dumbing down. I have been away to meetings where classes of S1 pupils are designing cereal boxes and watching a lot of telly to fulfil media and advertising criteria. If, as we are told, Nat4 is a grade 4 at Standard Grade then what of those who fall between that and Nat5 which is Credit? I also feel too much "parenting" is being expected of schools - too much Health and Wellbeing which is the same as Primary School. Those with good parents know about vegetables and exercise and yet they are forced to go over this again and again for the benefit of those who don't. I would like more done for the most able and I had hoped the new curriculum would do this but, from what I have read, this looks unlikely.

crosscountry Sat 14-Apr-12 14:53:56

Unlike you I am not happy about individual schools choosing different structures, but perhaps that's because my son's school will only allow a max of 6 subjects at Nat. 4/5 in S4. (Or as we call them in our household - National 6s and 7s) Unfortunately all schools in the Region are doing the same thing, so it is not feasible to move.
However I totally agree with your comment about dumbing down. It all seems to be about engaging the less enthusaistic learners and making everything fun and games. My son much prefers a more traditional teaching style. He gets fed up with constantly having to work in groups and would rather get on with the work on his own. He finds it annoying when the subject work stops so they can do some cross curricular project.
I worry when my other son in P7 comes home from school miserable because he had to do some text book maths. He thinks it should be all about running around the school doing some murder mystery maths instead.
I thought that the Highers were originally supposed to be retained as the Gold Standard, but these also seem to be dumbed down.
The whole thing is a mess and I'm sure it's only about saving money.

Roseformeplease Sat 14-Apr-12 15:57:25

Cross country - love your name, is it for running or because we are a nation of angry parents? Is there any consolation in the notion that at least all pupils are being disadvantaged and Universities will have to take Scottish pupils or there will be hell to pay? Likewise with employers and colleges? That is how I console myself in that they will have to maintain the numbers of students from Scotland and will, therefore, have to make allowances for local circumstances. My son also hates all the groups which mean he is often teaching others for no discernible benefit to himself, except socially, and he can make friends without measuring the Maths classroom with them.

Waswondering Sat 14-Apr-12 18:04:17

In our LA, the school you go to depends on how many Nat 5s you can do in S4. Some are 8, some are 6 .... it's a postcode lottery!! (Wonders if a placing request can be on the grounds of "because you offer more subjects" ....)

harki Mon 16-Apr-12 18:26:44

I think Bookbird is either a headteacher or a council official within an education department, as their answers are all the same !

We parents have the right to take this to our local MSPs. Although Bookbird isn't a fan of the press I also wish they would get more involved, but unless they have a child in S2 they probably won't know the ins and outs of this disaster !

tumbleweedblowing Mon 16-Apr-12 18:47:10

I started a thread about this (different username) about a year ago, and at that point many people felt similarly to myself, and skimming above gomez.

What I don't understand is why so many parents are still worried about this, but the national parent forum eg seems to be supporting the government? Is it that eg most people will only have this on their radar if their eldest is in P7/S1/S2? Otherwise, they're focussing on their older DCs who have exams coming up, or much younger DCs for whom the new CfE is great?

My most serious concern, as mentioned above is that some regions will be limiting the children to 6 subjects from S3. Even if they go on to take crash Highers, they are by definition crash Highers - and so go completely against the notion of depth of knowledge which the CfE is supposed to be all about.

I've been banging on about this so long that I'm losing the will, sadly. The other parents on our parent council are either teachers (at other schools, but still in the same authority hmm or have only much older children. They think I am completely mad, or see me questioning it as some sort of attack on their integrity and ability as teachers.

Sorry if this is a bit rambly. I'm taking lots of pain killers at the mo, and am a bit more addled than usual!

wigglybeezer Mon 16-Apr-12 18:49:49

Its 10 subjects in S3 and then 8 subjects for S4 in DS1's school (he is S2). This seems to be less usual and there has been a rush of out of catchment placements as a result. I'm actually a bit worried about DS2 getting in next year as we are out of catchment too (although chose the school long before I was aware of what the new exams were going to be like).

I do find it comforting that DS1 is basically following a similar number of subjects as was the norm "in my day".

It is also possible to do three sciences at our school (not that DSis , he isn't brainy enough unfortunately!)

tumbleweedblowing Mon 16-Apr-12 18:54:18

I'd love 8 subjects in S3/S4. I have worried that that was based on it being roughly what I had, but it really isn't. I believe the state education should be equally available to everyone no matter where they live. To say that in one region they are only allowed 6, but 2 miles up the road in another region they can have 7 or 8 or 9 is just plain wrong.

They either believe they have made the right decisions about the best state education for Scottish children, or they don't.

This farce is just making me angry again.

wigglybeezer Mon 16-Apr-12 19:03:36

It was intimated at a school meeting that the variability of the exam structure was to enable HT's to customize the system to suit the needs of their school population and local area (our head said he had chosen to do eight as our school population was quite academic (ie. middleclass!). This seems dodgy to me, how many school have a homogenous population, especially those with spread out catchments, what about children at either end of the ability range who might end up in a school organized for the benefit of children at the opposite end of the scale?

wigglybeezer Mon 16-Apr-12 19:05:12

PS. DS1 is starting S3 in May in order to fit the required number of hours/subject in before the end of S4.

margerykemp Mon 16-Apr-12 19:05:41

what are the independent schools doing?

and bookbird where are you getting your information from on Glasgow Uni med students? i know dozens and they all have maths+3 sciences at A in s5, that might be more than the 'min requirement' in the brochure but for such a oversubscribed course they are going to take the best they can and the best is as above.

harki Mon 16-Apr-12 20:44:14

Yes vet /med schools will need 5A's in 1 sitting plus plenty of relevant extra-curricular activities/ work . They don't have to accept less because theres so many kids to choose from with those good results. My biggest problem with this new system is not the change but the inequality across Scotland with regard to the number of subjects being chosen in individual schools. How is this being allowed to happen . I have questioned the authorities through my local MSP and the answers are vague to say the least.

Waswondering Mon 16-Apr-12 20:58:35

Our LA had a parent forum meeting at the end of last term where a lot of these concerns raised - but there was particular concern about how the independents were going to proceed with these (given their academic freedom).

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