Initial response proves positive for Scottish studies award

There has been a higher than anticipated response to the controversial new Scottish studies award, according to the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Some 45 centres - mostly schools - have made a firm commitment to offer the qualification, which will be offered from August, while about 100 showed an interest by signing up to launches in Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Robert Quinn, SQA's head of humanities, arts and business qualifications development, said he was surprised as he expected Scottish studies to be a "slow burner".

The award will be completed by drawing on Scottish elements of other courses students are taking. It will be available at three levels, the highest equivalent to Standard grade Credit or Intermediate 2.

School Leaders Scotland president Ronnie Summers predicted that Scottish studies would become "quite popular", but that interest might build slowly as schools prioritise the new National qualifications.

The EIS union is generally supportive of Scottish studies as long as schools have the freedom to tackle it however they see fit.

But Neil McLennan, president of the Scottish Association of Teachers of History, said there should be equivalent courses in British, European and world studies, since some people may view themselves as, for example, more British or Shetlander than Scottish.

"Making these sorts of decisions for young people by course structures and curriculum design can be very dangerous unless a full balance is offered," he said.

He added that, rather than encouraging "clusters of skills from separate disciplines that help to enhance knowledge", Scottish studies will involve "plucking themes from the air and giving them to students to then artificially decide on some unrelated tasks".

Scottish studies is part of a number of new awards designed to offer more flexibility - to students of all abilities - alongside the usual qualifications pursued in the latter years of secondary.

They include personal finance, leadership, employability, volunteering, cycling, and "modern languages for life". Some are already available and there have been more than 4,000 entries this year.

Mr Quinn suggested that they will have added appeal for heads because they count towards the new way of measuring pupils' performance that replaces the STACs benchmarking system.

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