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No interval for S grade exams

PLANS TO amalgamate Standard grade exams have been criticised as "compression" and blamed on the demands of the Higher Still timetable.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority is proposing that from 2000 candidates presented for FoundationGeneral level exams or for GeneralCredit would sit their two papers together without the interval given at present.

This would have the advantage of improving security. In some cases, the SQA's consultation paper says, "a GeneralCredit leaving early from the General paper might, if not supervised, mix with the FoundationGeneral group during their break between papers. This could lead to a breach of confidentiality."

By bringing papers together, a shorter timetable would be possible. But already the length of the Standard grade diet has been reduced from five weeks to four weeks to accommodate the needs of Higher Still teaching and exams, and this has caused timing difficulties for some candidates.

The proposals would increase the time in the exam room without an interval - up to 2 hours 45 minutes for FG and 3 hours 45 minutes for GC candidates. The SQA accepts that this would be a disadvantage and will consult on how long pupils "of a particular age or motivation can be expected to sustain their concentration".

Fred Forrester, depute general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said there had already been concern about the S grade timetable being compressed by the demands of Higher Still, and this appeared to be "another example of excessive Higher Still knock-on effects on a completely separate exam".

The views of classroom teachers are being sought and the matter will be discussed by the union's education committee next month.

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