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Crunch year for English courses

A COUNCIL survey on Higher Still English shows education authorities are still struggling to implement it. But they none the less expect all schools to offer the new course next session.

The report, which has been sent to the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Qualifications Authority, lists more than 30 problem areas. It says teacher workload remains a major concern particularly in handling assessment in large English classes. One council estimates that an English teacher would require to spend 7.5 hours on a single assessment, or 15 minutes per pupil, for a class of 30.

There are also considerable pressures involved in managing and processing Higher Still courses which consist of three units each, all internally marked by teachers. Concerns about materials in English, which are at Intemediate level as well as Higher, range full circle from inadequacy or late arrival to teachers being swamped by the volume of required reading.

The job of keeping pupils and parents fully informed about Higher Still "has become a task that has increased in complexity". Presentations have to be prepared and delivered, and course choice booklets produced.

The report also points to technical problems such as increased timetabling difficulties with the additional mix and range of courses, the need to provide Internet access and low student awareness of some aspects.

Criticism also emerges of the fit between Standard grade and Higher Still. Some Standard grade 4 pupils struggle at Intermediate I while Standard grade 3 pupils have found the Intermediate II course too demanding.

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