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national 5s school now reducing the number pupils are allowed to sit to 6

(35 Posts)
HMF1 Mon 30-Nov-15 19:26:33

Does anyone have any experience of this? We spoke to the head at parents night & they said LA was introducing this to raise attainment levels ie they sit fewer & will get better grades. No meaningful response to our comments about limiting the opportunities for those who are capable of sitting more. I can only assume that this is an attempt to try to improve the results by which the schools are measured rather than any real attempt at raising attainment by raising standards. I am very cynical about this move, can anyone explain why it might be a good idea, my youngest DS who will be affected by this is more than capable of getting excellent grades across 7 subjects.

prettybird Mon 30-Nov-15 20:06:03

Whereabouts are you?

In Glasgow the council seems to have let individual schools make their own decisions - I wasn't aware that that had changed.

Ds is doing 8 Nat 5s (and think he'll also be getting a Nat 4 in RME). They make their choices towards the end of S2 and then over the course of S3 and S4 decide whether they'll be doing Nat 4 or Nat 5.

myotherusernameisbetter Mon 30-Nov-15 20:07:08

Our local school (not the one my DSs attend) did the opposite after the parents went nuts. They had intended a maximum of 6 regardless of ability. Now they can do 7 and the previous head "retired".

I can see how, for pupils who are middle achievers, it may be better to get 6 decent grades than 7 lower ones, but surely the school must already be able to cater to that by them doing their 7th subject at a lower level?

In this I take it they want to limit to 6 subjects full stop, regardless of level, so that the extra time on the timetable is reallocated to the 6 remaining subjects?

To me they are effectively choosing their Highers then. Imo that is too early to be cutting down that far, but as far as I am aware guidance is that it should be 6. I think Aberdeen council did a 6 Nat 5 ruling across all their schools so maybe some experience there?

kua Mon 30-Nov-15 20:21:09

As myother has stated they are making them choose their highers from the get go while completely ignoring the ethos of a Scottish education ie breadth.

The introduction of the Nat4/5/ Higher syllabus was to allow a combination of the above allowing students to study at their appropriate level.

Edinburgh for example, state and independent on the whole offers 8 Nat 5s. The west appears to offer 5/6/7.

prettybird Mon 30-Nov-15 20:47:11

I'm in the West and ds' school (and others that I know of) are offering 8 as a matter of course too. smile

I agree that those LAs/schools that are restricting to 5 or 6 (I think Aberdeenshire is one culprit example of a LA wide diktat) are totally going against the ethos of the broad Scottish education, with pupils effectively having to choose their Highers far too soonangry

myotherusernameisbetter Mon 30-Nov-15 20:58:03

kua, I could be wrong, but I think the majority of schools offering more than 6 have to "steal" the time from somewhere as the length of a Nat 5 course really only technically allows 6 to be fitted in in 4th year. For example, our school does 7 and steals the time after Easter when technically they should still be on BGE until the return of the pupils after the exams when all years move up. I think other schools manage 7 or 8 by sort of paying lip service to the BGE in 3rd year but actually narrowing down the subjects at the end of 2nd year to allow some progress towards Nat 5 to be made. Bigger schools with a larger variety of teaching staff are able to manage that more easily.

I'm not saying which is wrong and which is right btw, i'm just saying how they manage the disparity.

So, technically those doing 6 subjects in 4th year and continuing BGE up to the end of 3rd year are actually doing things as they were intended. I personally think 6 is too few. 7 is technically the new 8 as back in my day you would have done separate Arithmetic and Maths (2 of the 8 subjects we chose at end of 2nd year for O grade) now that is combined so when you consider English as compulsory at some level, that leaves you 5 extra subjects, the same as those doing 7 get to do now.

Obviously even back then there were some differences in schools, but I think the 8 was the standard.

kua Mon 30-Nov-15 21:28:27

I think the difference is that here in Edinburgh Nat 5s are done over two years.

S1 and S2 general education end of S2 they pick their subjects to study in S3/S4 .
For the majority the Nat 4 is banked sometime during S3 (if not earlier) and they continue onto the Nat 5. Those who do not attain the Nat 4 during S3 will aim for that in S4 and will aim for the Nat5 in S5.

RJnomore1 Mon 30-Nov-15 21:31:13

They offer 6 here but they offer 6 across the entire senior phase, eg 3 years x 6 possible qualifications -18 total available.

I don't think it matters personally, 6 jiggers is a stretch though.

prettybird Mon 30-Nov-15 21:35:58

You're right - ds' school (and others that I know of doing 8) do so by starting the Nat 4/5 curriculum early. Ds started his S3 timetable in the June of his S2 year - and some of the neighbour outgoing schools "started" a couple of weeks earlier.

You're also right that 7 is the new 8 as Arithmetic used to be separate for "O" grades.

But you also used to be able to do 6 Highers shock Some of my classmates also did an extra "O" grade for "fun" hmm (the only reason I didn't do so as well was 'cos I still "catching up" after only getting back Scotland 6 months before the "O" Grades).

myotherusernameisbetter Mon 30-Nov-15 21:42:37

kua effectively they are behaving as if the new CfE doesn't exist as the premise of it was the BGE for 3 years.

I don't disagree with what they are doing but it is a half way house. Whilst they may be offering a broader amount of subjects in S4 than some schools, they are offering a less broad S3.

With my DSs school being on the smaller side, tbh their BGE isn't that B anyway. No drama, 4 weeks Home Ec, 2nd language only offered by using time from the main one etc etc. but they are maintaining core PE and RME through 4th, 5th and 6th year. However they are very successful academically.

kua Mon 30-Nov-15 21:44:18

I don't think it is right in having the pupils choose their highers so early.

Back in the days of yore, we had a choice of 8/9 and yes the maths at that time was split into two subjects ( which I think we should go back to.)

kua Mon 30-Nov-15 21:50:08

I was of the understanding that all schools had to retain PA and RME through their school years.

Myother -That is the the problem for smaller schools ie not being able to offer the full spread of subjects at exam level.

myotherusernameisbetter Mon 30-Nov-15 21:51:09

I agree, I think 6 is too few but that is the model as it was designed to be. I preferred our old system smile

I think that they are a bit at odds with Higher Education as technically given the amount of pupils now staying for 6 years, they should be able to give themselves a broad range of Nat 5s/Highers over the 3 years but Unis etc are still looking for the relevant grades in the relevant subjects to be taken in one sitting.

DS1 is hoping that he will be able to choose a Higher that he hasn't done the Nat5 for in his elections for S5 next year.

myotherusernameisbetter Mon 30-Nov-15 21:54:51

I think initially that they didn't have to offer PE and RME for the senior school - DS1 was certainly looking forward to not having either.... DS2 quite likes RME as an atheist. He just likes arguing though grin

DSs school is very science heavy as far as teaching staff are concerned. They can only offer French or Spanish, no German, no Drama and probably loads more that I am missing smile

kua Mon 30-Nov-15 21:55:51

I agree, especially as you have quite rightly stated that Unis look for results on a first sitting.
So you are more than a bit buggered if you change your mind in what you want to study. confused

QueenLaBeefah Mon 30-Nov-15 22:00:01

Yy bring back maths bad arithmetic o grades

Why do they have to bloody change everything every 5 yrs. absolute farce.

myotherusernameisbetter Mon 30-Nov-15 22:03:59

buggered indeed. I have DS2 in third year and about to make his elections for S4 he is 14, some of his class will still be 13. Under the 6 exams subjects system, a 13 year old is effectively having to decide at the very least on a main area of future study. But even in the ones that are fairly sure of an area of interest, there could still be discrepancies, i.e.they may want to do engineering but at some point decide that they'd like to do Chemical engineering only they didn't choose Chemistry when they were 13, they chose Physics....

ttlshiwwya Mon 30-Nov-15 22:08:29

We are in the west and my DCs school allows maximum of 6 national 5s in S4. My DS1 did 8 standard grades so initially I was concerned that my younger ones would have less choice but now my DS2 is in S4 I am quite comfortable with only 6 subjects being examined. They follow the BGE until end of S3 and only start national 5 courses at the beginning of S4 so there is only time for 6. My DS2 is an average achiever by mumsnet standards and has liked the chance to try out subjects in S3. I think he would have made less ambitious choices if he had to decide in S2 and couldn't drop any subjects. Also he changed his mind on a subject right at the end of S3 and was able to switch to another which wouldn't have been possible for my DS1. My DS2 still can drop one subject for Higher which is really only one less than my DS1 as a MFL was compulsory and my DS1 would never have chosen it willingly. Might not be great for kids who are very undecided on subjects or who don't go on to study 5 highers in S5 and go onto college/ university as employers might make unfair comparisons between candidates.

prettybird Mon 30-Nov-15 22:21:35

Everyone at ds' school does "core" PE and RME in S4 (not sure about S5). This is even though some might be studying RME or PE for Nat 5 - which is timetabled separately. So ds ends up having PE every single day - some "Core", some Nat 5.

If he wasn't doing PE at Nat 5, he might have ended 8 Nat 5s and 2 Nat 4s (PE and RME).

I think too under the true principles of the BGE element of CfE, more pupils would've got close to Nat 4 level in a wide range of subjects so crash Nat 5s and even Highers in S5 in theory would be possible.

Ds got to study 2 full MFL for 2 years before dropping back to one. At his school, the 2nd MFL alternates between Spanish and German: his was a Spanish year (he takes pride in the fact that he can speak some Spanish and I can't wink). School also studied drama, tech drawing, home ec, music, art etc for at least a term per year (for S1 and S2 only though).

myotherusernameisbetter Mon 30-Nov-15 22:39:28

They get Art, Music and all 3 tech (a term of each tech) in S1-3. They used to get Home Ec all year but both teachers left/retired and then one came back part time to take the exam classes and she takes as many other classes as possible in her remaining hours so they all at least get a few weeks per year. The Home Ec slots were taken up by extra Maths. They also get computing and some other bits and pieces for part terms which they drop the extra Maths to accommodate. Tbf I think they do the best with what they have to give all pupils a flavour of as many subjects as they can.

fuckweasel Mon 30-Nov-15 22:51:44

Only five National 5s allowed here! Kind of BGE until end of S3 (some options chosen at end of S2, e.g two of three sciences). Though they can do National 5s in S5 and S6 in addition to Highers/Advanced Highers.

prettybird Mon 30-Nov-15 23:09:59

5 Nat 5s is just so restrictive shock. Ds is dropping French for Higher - but if he'd only been able to do 5 Nat 5s, there's no way I could've forced him to include it and he'd never have picked it up again.hmm

myotherusernameisbetter Mon 30-Nov-15 23:27:03

DS1 found 7 restrictive. He'd have liked to have kept a language and Music and do the Graph Comm instead of Geography.

It's nice to hear positive stuff about doing less though.

DS2 seems fine so far though he hasn't seen the final options sheet yet, he has a talent for language so it's a shame he wont be taking any by the looks of it and he does like music too. He isn't sorry to be saying goodbye to Art though.

QueenLaBeefah Mon 30-Nov-15 23:28:57

Tbh I think the national 5s have been a complete and utter disaster ( I have a 14 yr old). Scottish education's strong point was that it had a broad range of subjects but now it is just so restrictive.

HMF1 Tue 01-Dec-15 06:04:57

Thank you all, we are in North Ayrshire & I understand other schools in the area are already only offering 6 as a rule, I have been told they will use the time saved by dropping one subject in 4th year for studying each of the 6 they are taking. My middle son did 7 Nat 5s at the same school. Still very unsure that this is a good thing & of course he wants to drop French for computing science, I am concerned it's too narrow for 4th year.

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