A Tes Scotland poll of 80 technological education teachers suggests that most are against the introduction of an exam in the coming academic year for N5 practical woodwork, metalwork and electronics. A quarter of respondents are in favour.
Here are some comments from both sides of the debate:
The case against an N5 exam:
“I have pupils who can make the most beautiful projects and have amazing hand skills but can barely read or write. Why should that stop them gaining a top mark in a practical subject where they should be getting merit for something that they can do, rather than being penalised for not being able to read an exam paper?”
“[This] changes the emphasis of the course and also would mean that some pupils would not take the subject at all. The whole point is that pupils can demonstrate their ability.”
“Pupils should be assessed on practical work as the nature of the course is practical. Many pupils choosing subjects like practical woodwork would struggle to sit an exam but can display excellent practical abilities.”
“I have a pupil who is taking the course this year who is N5 standard in practical skills but cannot write or speak. This change therefore would limit him to only N4 as N5 is now no longer accessible for him.
“Some of the pupils who take practical woodwork in my school are fine with both the practical aspect of the course and the written work, but would struggle under exam conditions.”
The case for an N5 exam:
“This will ensure that senior staff realise that practical subjects are not seen as a dumping ground for pupils who can’t be placed elsewhere.”
“[This change is] to prevent too much teacher input influencing a grade.”
“The addition of the exam gives credibility to the subject and secures knowledge content as well as demonstration of skills. The addition of an exam may open the doors to the subject being delivered at Higher.”
“[Introducing an exam] gives credibility and levels out inconsistent marking of projects.”
“Pupils’ knowledge of tools, processes and materials is poor.”