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A head's concerns

Tension rises as classrooms count down to August 1999

"We are driving some departments faster than ideally we would wish because of the arrival of Higher Still," Arran High's headteacher says.

Susan Smith was not talking about post-16 courses but about the 5-14 programme. The aim is to report on all first and second-year pupils across the five A to E levels by the end of next session in all areas of the curriculum.

"It will not be as thorough as we would like and not as well co-ordinated with the primaries as we would like," Ms Smith said. "It will be more like a Mini than the Rolls-Royce model of 5-14, but perhaps building up to a Mini-Cooper. "

As far as Higher Still itself is concerned, the Highers will be the immediate focus of change as the existing exams disappear from August 1999. The Advanced Higher is then scheduled to replace the Certificate of Sixth Year Studies the following year.

"Intermediate 2 courses will have to wait," Ms Smith says, "although if existing National Certificate modules are already on offer and can be repackaged into the new courses, we will obviously endeavour to do that. "

She believes Higher Still has not made bi-level teaching easier, "and that has been one of my biggest disappointments". There are likely to be problems matching the content of adjacent courses such as Intermediate 1 and 2, and Intermediate 2 and Higher, Ms Smith suggests.

As for the Scottish Group Awards, Ms Smith is succinct: "If we can provide them, we will. If we cannot, we won't." Access to sufficient courses for pupils to make up a group of subjects is yet another potential problem for small schools.

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