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Scholar is a hit online

Senior students south of the border can lift their sub A-level results by a full grade when they regularly key into the interactive Scholar programme devised by Heriot Watt University.

The programme is now used widely in all Scottish secondaries at Higher and Advanced Higher levels after successful trials over the past eight years, and it has now spread to England.

A Learning and Skills Council study has shown it can improve results in maths, science and computing at AS and A2 levels. The more students used Scholar, the more likely they were to improve their grade. The study was spread over 56 schools and 1,974 students.

Malcolm Payton, head of foundation programmes at the Interactive University (which markets Scholar) and former head of education in Shetland, said: "We are really pleased, but not surprised, that this report has highlighted the great benefits of Scholar in terms of individual exam achievement and the ability to access interactive curriculum material 24 hours a day.

"This further supports the independent evaluation in Scotland, where Scholar has gained universal support and approval," he said.

The evaluation confirmed that students accessed the Scholar programme throughout the day and it was used equally by males and females.

While Scholar's versatility and accessibility have proved successful, the skills council notes a mismatch to syllabuses other than that of the OCR exam board. It adds that the maths materials were a "real turn-off" for the majority of students and teachers.

Scholar's reach compares favourably with that of the BBC. Gerry Toner, the director of the programme, said: "The BBC recently celebrated a hit rate of 1.4 million per term at its online revision site.

"Our users, in a more limited subject range, represent only about half of all pupils in Scotland. Yet, despite that, the Scholar site is getting over a million hits per term, a far higher level in real terms."

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