Ooh, I was grumpy on Thursday. Although I’m still a bit annoyed that I might have to rethink my plans, I’ve decided that as this is a very narrow, personal and quite negative way of reflecting on some very wide ranging proposals.
Gordon has helpfully summarised the proposals. I’d like to use this summary as a frame for my thoughts:
“1. New qualifications in literacy and numeracy will be developed at SCQF levels 3, 4 and 5. Pupils will take these in S4 or later and will include a mixture of internal and external assessment.”
Although clearly literacy & numeracy skills are essential for our learners, does creating new assessments mean that these skills will be improved? There is a drive from CfE to embed these skills more explicitly across the curriculum and perhaps this is an attempt to ensure this happens? Does this replace traditional Maths & English qualifications, or is this as well as?
“2. Standard Grade and Intermediate 1 and 2 qualifications will be replaced by a new set of qualifications at SCQF levels 4 and 5. Standard Grade foundation level (SCQF level 3) will be replaced by Access 3.”
This is the most eye catching proposal. I’m finding it hard to objectively reflect on this, and I suppose this is partly due to the fact that I have no idea what these new qualifications will look like. It is clear to me that these qualifications do need rationalised and a rethink is in order, but how far will it go? Will the learning outcomes be dramatically different, and will they be successfully reflected in the assessment materials? I suppose only time will tell. So, it appears that I actually agree that change is necessary – I just don’t like that it’s happening now!
“3. Highers are seen as the “gold standard” of Scottish education. All national qualifications, including Higher and Advanced Higher will, however be reviewed to ensure consistency with curriculum for excellence.”
This is probably good news. It’d be even more scary if these were being replaced at the same time, and it would be frustrating if they weren’t tweaked to fit in with the changes taking place below.
“4. More flexibility will be embedded in the system. This is likely to include a winter diet of examinations and the most able pupils bypassing lower levels.”
Interesting…In my limited experience, flexibility costs money – primarily through smaller class sizes. Although great in principle, are schools equipped to offer real flexibility? If not, how will this be resolved?
“There was a very clear indication that pupils would not take qualifications until S4 at the earliest except for exceptional circumstances. It was also noted that new qualifications would be likely to be implemented in 2012/2013, ie for those pupils currently in P6.”
I’m not sure what is meant by this S4 thing. This is when the majority of pupils sit their exams anyway. Does it mean that pupils wont formally embark on these qualifications until S4? Does this mean that the traditional S1/S2 is being extended into S3? If so, what impact does this have on a school like mine which decided a few years ago that S2 wasn’t working so they now start their Standard Grade/Intermediate 1/Access 3 courses in S2 instead of S3?
2012/13? – that leaves us with another three years of the current system. I suppose that this means that we should have a fair idea where this is all heading in two years time (and we already have an idea from the Curriculum for Excellence experiences & outcomes). So, I suppose if I develop our activities in line with CfE, they will probably transfer across to the new system – and maybe help us to contribute to the consultation process?
So overall, I think I’m in favour of this. It has been on the horizon since I arrived back in Scotland as a teacher, and in many ways it’s exciting that it’s happening now. However, change is always threatening and uncomfortable – but it’s also inevitable.