On the 24th May 2010, a new SQA Qualification Design Team met in Glasgow to begin the process of coming up with a new suite of Biology National Qualifications as part of Curriculum for Excellence, which I was fortunate enough to be part of. As expected, the meetings which followed over the next few years were a bit of a roller coaster. Whilst there were times when it all seemed to be going well, and there was even the occasional laugh, there were also the obvious stresses and frustrations which go along with this sort of work. All part of the job of course, but it still took its toll at the time.
So it’s perhaps unsurprising that after years of numerous trips to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling to be stuck in a conference room reading endless documents (including at weekends), followed by lengthy planning sessions for the Local Authority and in school, that I’m now actually beginning to look forward to teaching National 4 and 5 for the first time this week! Of course the qualifications and courses we’ve ended up with aren’t perfect, show me one that is, but I’m at least convinced that they are an improvement on the courses and qualifications they replace, which is ultimately all we can realistically expect to achieve.
Perhaps the most exciting thing though isn’t the new courses…it’s actually the opportunity (impetus) they’ve given us as a department to refresh the way we do things in the classroom. We’ve been making such progress with our courses in S1-3 it actually makes sense to alter our approach in the Senior Phase for these students also. Otherwise they would’ve had quite an incoherent secondary school experience.
Of course, it won’t be all plain sailing…there’s still a lot of work and learning ahead…but focusing on the learning and new opportunities will hopefully sustain me once all that work piles up…I’m pretty sure that teaching the new courses should be a lot more fun than designing and planning them!