Need to chat about Scottish education stuff

(131 Posts)
BoffinMum Fri 29-Apr-16 20:46:43

I have just realised how little I know about the Scottish education system and I am supposed to be writing something about it for work. There don't seem to be as many reports and article published about it as the English system, which makes it harder to know what people actually in schools are really thinking and what the mood music is. AuldAlliance reckoned I ought to post something on here and see what the Scottish Mumsnet massive had to say about things, which seems a quite brilliant idea. So anyone around to help answer a few questions?

TheTroubleWithAngels Fri 29-Apr-16 20:53:08

Primary teacher here smile

dotdotdotmustdash Fri 29-Apr-16 20:55:30

Previously a mental health nurse and just finishing 5 years working as a TA (or PSA) in Scottish schools. My youngest child also had her last day in 6th year today.

BoffinMum Fri 29-Apr-16 21:23:57

First of all, is it true primary Scottish kids don't have to do SATs like in England, and that people generally like this fact?
Also how do you think the Curriculum for Excellence is panning out? What do you think the point of it was, and it is working?

dementedma Fri 29-Apr-16 21:28:20

It is true they don't do SATs which I think is good, although I'm not entirely sure what SATS are!

pollylovespie Fri 29-Apr-16 21:32:12

Have a look on Education Scotland website, lots of info on there. No Sats in Scotland. People are horrified when I tell them my DN in England has got an exam at the age of 7! I personally really like the curriculum for excellence. It gives teachers more freedom (imo) and its aims are about producing happy, confident, responsible kids rather than test - passing machines.

dotdotdotmustdash Fri 29-Apr-16 21:35:58

They don't have SATs as such, but many areas, mine included, do have the children sit through computer-based testing on numeracy, literacy and problem solving. They sit these tests at P1. P3, P5 and P7 level. They are called PIPS or INCAS and are part of the AfE (assessment for excellence) protocol. The results help to place the child in appropriate levels and give feedback to the school and the Scottish Government. The pupils and their parents don't stress about them, we just quietly take the kids out to sit them.

strawberrie Fri 29-Apr-16 21:35:58

However standardised assessment is back in the pipeline under the SNP's new National Education Framework. With the laudable intention of closing the attainment gap but I'm not convinced.

TheTroubleWithAngels Fri 29-Apr-16 21:40:10

First of all, is it true primary Scottish kids don't have to do SATs like in England, and that people generally like this fact?

This was true, it is now changing and standardised testing will be brought in in the next two years. Children in P1, P4 and P7 will have to be tested in numeracy and literacy.

I would say that the majority of parents would tell you that they would not be happy putting their child under a lot of stress. At the same time, it is a common complaint that the CfE is very vague and they don't know if their child is really on track or not.

Also how do you think the Curriculum for Excellence is panning out? What do you think the point of it was, and it is working?

<takes deep breath>

- CfE gives teachers a lot of flexibility, which is wonderful, but then we are still asked to put children in ticky boxes.

- There are so many Es & Os it is nigh on impossible to know them all and ensure that every child is covering as many as they can, never mind in depth.

- Every school is coping with this in different ways and there is very little continuity.

- Standards in literacy and numeracy are continually dropping- and that's according to the government.

- We are being asked to teach creatively and co-operatively when our class sizes are rising and budgets are being cut. We're having to make all of our own resources because of the vagueness of the official curriculum and the lack of trust in textbooks, we're having to buy more and more because our schools are so short of money, and we don't have extra adult support (in classroom assistants (SfLWs) and ASN, EAL, even music and P.E. specialists).

TheTroubleWithAngels Fri 29-Apr-16 21:43:47

its aims are about producing happy, confident, responsible kids

From the POV of a teacher, the focus on 'Health and Wellbeing' is quite conflicting. Of course we want happy and confident kids, but HWB has all of a sudden appeared at the forefront of the curriculum. There are some outcomes which are easy to teach and assess, and then you have far more difficult ones, where you are supposed to assess children talking about their feelings and emotions etc. This seems extremely unnatural to me and when you put it together with Named Person, you begin to wonder if parents are trusted to do any of this...

prettybird Fri 29-Apr-16 22:52:44

You'll get different views about the CfE as it's still bedding in. It's on the 3rd year of National 5s, 2nd year of Highers (and presumably, 1st year of Advanced Highers).

Ds is sitting his National 5s this year. CfE was introduced formally while he was at primary school - but at his primary school nothing actually changed as they already taught by its principles.

What did change was that what testing they did do stopped (which had been along the lines of "by end of Pxxx, yyyy% of children are expected to have reached Level Z, aaaa% of children will have reached Level b"; teachers only put the children forward for the tests once they thought they were ready) . I think they were supposed to start to report whether children were "learning, consolidating, ?confident?" (A Venn diagram of three overlapping circles) but I think Glasgow refused to participate in that - so ds' school reports for the last few years of primary school had these useless Venn diagrams on the front with no indication of where he was in them.

Not sure what the new tests will consist of: if they are done in the same way that the previous tests were, ie children only put forward when ready and reporting done on the percentages that achieve it by a certain age, I don't have an issue.

The implementation of CfE has also led to discrepancies around how many National 5s pupils will sit. In some areas they can only sit 5 or 6, as they only narrow down for S4 (or after 3 years of the "Broad General Education") whereas others manage to do 8, as they make their choices at the end of S2 so have enough time to get through the Nat 5 curriculum.

For the academic kids, the number of Highers has remained the same at 5. Schools encourage pupils to to sit them at a single sitting in S5 as the universities want to see what you can do in a single diet (for the more academic subjects). It is of course possible to do them (or re-sit or do more) over 2 years.

Kids can choose to go to Uni after S5 or (more commonly) stay on to do S6 and do more Highers and/or 1,2 or 3 Advanced Highers. Some schools will also give the option of A Levels.

aliceinwanderland Fri 29-Apr-16 23:00:16

DD1 is in P4. She did an online literacy assessment a couple of weeks ago. She had a timetable test today she had to revise for and has regular "check ups". So plenty of assessment even if no says.

BoffinMum Fri 29-Apr-16 23:08:39

Blimey, sounds really complicated. Trying to get my head around all this. A few more questions, if I may.

BTW interesting there are some low-key online tests - I think we would be better off doing that in England tbh. SATs are approached really badly in some schools to the detriment of real standards, I think. Then again these were probably the same schools that coasted along for years thinking they were brilliant but not doing much.

1. Have you had the same pressure to improve spelling and grammar, etc as in England? It has gone totally nuts here, especially as they accidentally published the exam paper online and had to cancel it!! (DS punched the air in joy!!)
2. Has Scottish school inspection changed in the light of CfE? What do you think about school inspection in general? We have a new regime but they are struggling to get around schools quickly enough.
3. If standards are falling how come you seem to do so well in international tests in Scotland?
4. How much time are pupils spending on homework at different ages? Has this changed recently, do you think? Is there much pressure?
5. What's happening with online learning? Is that happening much in Scottish schools? Here they do a lot in school and also use online homework sites like Mathletics, Language Perfect and so on.
6. How happy are Scottish pupils? In studies English ones always seem to be the most miserable in Europe.

Passmethecrisps Fri 29-Apr-16 23:12:35

Hallo! Scottish secondary here.

In answer to number 5 take a look into glow. Glow in a national online leaning platform which aims to support teachers and pupils in hosting materials, video conferencing and other stuff in a safe and controlled environment which is shared across Scotland. He reality hasn't live up to expectations In Many, many ways but the idea was laudable and worth looking into

BoffinMum Fri 29-Apr-16 23:14:19

I am looking now - Glow looks ace!

Passmethecrisps Fri 29-Apr-16 23:14:23

3 is also hard to gauge: I read threads on here about schools in England and feel very miserable about he treatment of children and teachers.

I feel the pressure is less and all round life skills are given a higher agenda. Everything being centralised helps in my opinion.

Passmethecrisps Fri 29-Apr-16 23:16:06

It could be fab. I use it a fair amount for blogging. I don't have a classroom so glow is my display area or that is the theory. I like it for supporting absentees and keeping progress public.

I am not great at keeping it at he forefront of my thinking though as j am still a minority of users

BoffinMum Fri 29-Apr-16 23:18:46

Do you think Glow helps minimise any urban/rural lowlands/highlands/islands divide? Or is that too idealistic?

BoffinMum Fri 29-Apr-16 23:20:50

Angels, we had something called SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) which was felt to be very intrusive. They also started a very detailed database of children called ContactPoint that risked being hugely insecure and having lots of inaccurate information about children on there, and once MPs said they weren't going to let their families' details on there, and demanded official opt outs, it was more or less dead in the water. The Tories killed it in 2010.

BoffinMum Fri 29-Apr-16 23:23:42

Very tired and full of cold so off to bed, but will be back online tomorrow. Very interesting to learn all this. Tempted to move north of the border wink

CitySnicker Fri 29-Apr-16 23:23:54

Are you a journalist?

prettybird Fri 29-Apr-16 23:27:39

On the app so will probably have to reply to your points in separate posts.

1. SPaG: No, there's nowhere near the ridiculous emphasis on incompressible grammar and spelling as there is in England. And I say that as a grammar pedant!

TheTroubleWithAngels Fri 29-Apr-16 23:32:54

Glow is on the way out...

No. SPAG expectations are virtually non existant.

Every child will sit the standardised tests regardless of ability. The problem for many schools in cities is that we are absolutely full. Many schools do not have adequate ICT facilities. So, for us, what should be a low key test is a logistical nightmare. We have 12 ropey laptops and no WiFi. We are going to either have to bus the children to the nearest high school or put them onto staff computers 1 at a time.

Inspections recently seem to be much fairer than a few years ago. However, they still want to see flamboyant, all singing, all dancing lessons which are expensive in resources of all kinds, including staff, and which take much longer than chalk and talk. Everyone wants to see rapid progression (in numbers) but expects us to use slow, expensive teaching methods.

There is also a huge pressure to be inclusive, without adequate support imo. How can we be inclusive of autistic children (for example) when we are supposed to have busy, bright displays and busy classrooms?

I feel that all the powers that be talk about Scandinavian countries, without acknowledging that most of these countries do good old chalk and talk.

prettybird Fri 29-Apr-16 23:33:26

2. Not sure if the HMI regime has changed with CfE. As a parent I've managed to miss them at both prinary and secondary shock(Ds primary was inspected just before he went and then a couple of years after he left; and I'm not sure when his secondary school was last inspected).

prettybird Fri 29-Apr-16 23:39:19

3. Pass: don't know.

4. Homework policy is decided by individual schools - especially at primary. Ds' primary school didn't particularly agree with homework but did a small amount (c.15 minutes/night P1-3, c.30 minutes/night by P7) so that we as parents could be involved in the school/pupil/parent partnership. Consolidation rather than anything new.

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