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Is this a Mission Impossible?

Perhaps I am stupid? Do I lack imagination? Am I past my sell-by date? I read and re-read the Curriculum for Excellence documents, I really think I get it. A broad general education in first, second and third year based on level 3 and 4 outcomes and a senior qualifications phase in fourth, fifth and sixth year with revised National, Higher and Advanced Higher courses. What could be more straightforward?

The senior phase starts in fourth year, each course has a notional 160 hours, so that must mean ... five or six courses, unless my maths is also going down the tubes (39 weeks x 27 12 hours = 1,072 12 divided by 160 = 6.7). So six courses and some time for PE, personal and social education and religious, moral and philosophical studies. Simple.

So why is it that I read "allowing young people to take between five and eight qualifications in S4 as is currently the case" in the CfE briefing "Broad General Education in the Secondary School"?

Would those wiser, more creative and obviously more intelligent than me please tell me how seven or eight qualifications can be achieved and still be true to the guiding principles of Curriculum for Excellence?

Derek Thompson, headteacher, Westhill Academy, Aberdeenshire, writing in a personal capacity (all offers of help gratefully received).

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