Introduction of the New Secondary School Exams - Call for Clarity in Dundee

Laurie Bidwell

21 February 2012

A poll by the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) has revealed that 45% of secondary schools in Scotland are still allowing pupils to choose exam subjects at the end of second year, said Labour's Education Spokesperson in Dundee, Councillor Laurie Bidwell.

The move runs counter to official guidance from the Scottish Government on the new Curriculum for Excellence which seeks to give pupils a broad-based education up until the end of S3.

It is only at that point pupils are supposed to choose which subjects they will sit under the new National 4 and National 5 exams – which replace Standard Grade and Intermediate qualifications.

The Education Secretary has previously spoken out on the issue after East Renfrewshire decision to allow S2 pupils to choose subjects. (2)

However, it is clear from the SSTA survey that such delays are far more widespread.

The SSTA survey is reported on page 5 of The Herald on Saturday 18 February:

Labour's Education Spokesperson in the City, Councillor Laurie Bidwell said,

"The SSTA survey shows very clearly that, many schools are ignoring the Cabinet Secretary's advice and retaining subject choice in S2 rather than S3."

"It is not clear from the SSTA survey whether any of our nine Dundee Secondary Schools are part of the 45% of secondary schools taking their own decisions about moving towards the new examinations."

"Members of the Education Committee has been kept in the dark about what is planned in Dundee by the Education Directorate.

"Under protest, I have received an assurance from the Director of Education that a detailed report on Curriculum for Excellence will be coming up at an early meeting of the Education Committee.

"I hope we will have an opportunity to postpone Dundee pupils taking the new examinations if there is any doubt that not to do so would disadvantage these pupils who would otherwise act as guinea pigs for the new examinations."

"One anxiety often reported to me by parents with children in S2 is that their children will be restricted to taking six subjects in the new National 4 and National 5 examinations examined at the end of S4.

"This is a 25% reduction from the current eight subjects at standard grade.

"The new curriculum for excellence is meant to broaden the education of pupils, but this restriction on courses in S4 appears to prematurely and abruptly close off career and educational options for senior pupils.

"It is disappointing if all the upheaval of a new curriculum and new examinations is leading to a backward step rather than some tangible improvements."

"I think the case for delaying the transition to the new exams gets stronger by the day."

"Dundee pupils, parents and teachers deserve better than all this uncertainty."

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