Call to put secondary qualifications on hold

Pressure is mounting on the Scottish Government to delay implementation of new secondary school qualifications under Curriculum for Excellence

Elizabeth Buie

The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association's council will vote tomorrow on a moratorium for all aspects of the curriculum reforms in secondary. Its motion cites concerns about a continued lack of progress in providing materials, lack of detail and vagueness and ambivalence about the experiences and outcomes.

The Educational Institute of Scotland has also called for the introduction of the new National exams - due to replace Standard grades and Intermediate exams in 2013-14 - to be delayed by a year. Failing that, schools should be allowed to have "dual running" of the two exam systems, said Larry Flanagan, EIS convener and its representative on the CfE management board.

The management board is to review the timeline for implementation at its meeting in April with a view to offering advice to Michael Russell, the Education Secretary, Mr Flanagan said.

Last week, Mr Russell told the Scottish Parliament that he would not "delay for delay's sake" but would delay "if the evidence proves it". He added: "I think the evidence will build towards a decision some time within the next few months."

Part of that evidence may come from two surveys that are expected to be launched this month, although one has already suffered significant delay. A joint survey by the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association and the Government was due to have been completed by the end of February.

But the process has been dogged by a failure to agree on what questions should be asked.

Ann Ballinger, SSTA general secretary, said questions submitted to her union by government officials had been "unhelpful".

"Their preliminary questions were based on asking teachers where they wanted the information to come from, rather than what information they wanted," she said.

A government spokeswoman said: "Discussions are under way with SSTA, and we hope to be able to issue the survey this month."

She revealed that the CfE management board is to conduct a separate survey of teachers' views - including those of EIS members - to be issued later this month.

Terry Lanagan, the representative for the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland on the management board, said that ADES believed there should be no delay to the implementation.

He said the first tranche of 150 National Assessment Resource materials should be available by the end of April, rather than September as originally anticipated, and that the board had been assured the other missing pieces would be in place in the next few months.

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Elizabeth Buie

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