I was struck, at the school bus meeting, not by an angry parent but by the general negativity in the room. Scattered amongst the “what about your expenses” and “you’re not listening to us” comments were mutterings about the Curriculum for Excellence. Why, people were asking, was money being wasted on this scheme that people clearly didn’t want? Now, I can’t profess to knowing a huge amount about the CfE but from what I do know, I wish it had been introduced early enough to benefit my two guineapigs, now in the closing stages of their school careers. I think there’s a huge selling job still to be done.
I’ve always thought that it must be extremely difficult to introduce real change in education, change beyond tinkering around the edges. The problem is that everyone thinks that their experiences were the best. They want the system they know for their children. The popular pundits tend to bolster this view. And children are in education for such a short space of time. Yes, I know it seems forever on that first day when they walk up the road in their smart new uniform, clutching their superman lunchbox and you’re choking back the tears, but believe me, it zips by. Continue reading →
It was the end of June and so the end of term when I found myself reminded of the reason why I adopted Guineapigmum as my nom de blog. Three years ago (was it really that long ago?) the school decided to bring the Standard Grade exams forward a year. The students would choose their 8 subjects at the end of S1 (Year 8 ) rather than S2 and sit their exams at the end of S3 (Year 10) instead of S4. They would choose their 5 subjects for Higher at the end of S3, do a 2 year instead of the more usual 1 year course and sit Highers as normal at the end of S5. Got that? Come on, keep up at the back of the class. If you stopped gossiping you’d know what I said.
GP1 was in the first year group to go through this system and so he sat his Standard Grades a year ago, in 2007. With this first cohort, the teachers had to deal with two entire year groups Continue reading →
Just something I didn’t get around to writing the other day, when thinking about S3 Standard Grades.
What are the perceived benefits of bringing the exams forward? Please discuss. I think it was explained to us at the time that there is a big drop in learning during second year, and that bringing the exams forward should keep the learning momentum going into exams. Or something along those lines. I seem to remember that, at the time, a fair proportion of parents thought that pushing the children towards earlier exams had to be a good thing. I don’t know whether or not they still think that. I was a doubter from the start but as this is now the system we find ourselves in, we have to make the best of it and the grapevine suggests that a lot more schools are going to be moving in that direction.
As I said – or tried to – in my earlier post, my main problem with it is the early reduction in the syllabus. I do think that this is potentially of considerable benefit to the less able children who are are able to drop subjects they loathe and concentrate earlier on improving grades over a narrower syllabus. But the more able children, who may well go on to higher education, can probably cope with a wider range of subjects for longer. They are having to drop subjects they enjoy and would be happy doing for another year without the pressure of exams. Once you’re onto that exam roller coaster, there is no let up until well after University. The trouble is perhaps that a comprehensive system within the constraints of school organisation has to be designed to suit everyone at once.