Helen Liddell, the Education Minister, this week released a consultation paper calling for greater flexibility but insisted the two-year Standard grade course would continue to be the most appropriate for "the great majority of pupils in S3-S4".
The paper proposes three options but ministers favour cutting by one year the restrictions on external exams. Schools would be advised to introduce suitable level F programmes in 5-14 to dovetail with earlier exam presentation for the most able, who could sit the new Higher in fourth year.
The least able could take a mix of Standard grade and Higher Still units and convert passes into course and group awards.
Fred Forrester, depute general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, described the proposals as "a knee-jerk reaction to the perceived holding back of able pupils", a legacy from the previous Tory government.
Leader, page 16