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Scottish texts off the shelf

Assessments in National 5 and Higher will feature an extracts-based approach

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Assessments in National 5 and Higher will feature an extracts-based approach

Scottish texts - to be introduced next year as a compulsory part of the Higher and National 5 English exams - will be assessed differently from the rest of the paper, the Scottish Qualifications Authority revealed this week.

Scottish texts across drama, prose and poetry will be assessed using an extract-based approach, similar to that of the early 1990s, Gill Stewart, the SQA's director of qualifications development, told TESS.

The format was proposed by principal assessors, and the qualifications design team, made up of practising teachers, was asked to consider whether candidates should be assessed on the basis of two critical essays - one on traditional English literature and the other on Scottish texts - or one critical essay (for the traditional part) and something based on a text extract for the new Scottish section, Dr Stewart added.

The decision was to move to the latter, in part because it was recognised that some pupils did less well in critical essay questions.

A question will be set on each of the texts on the SQA list unveiled this week to English teachers attending a series of training events. Candidates will be asked questions about the extract and about their wider understanding of the text or author.

The list is still provisional - a final version will be available at the end of February for National 5 and in May for Higher.

It will be reviewed every three years, allowing the SQA to judge how well some texts have been used.

What's in store: on the list for national 5 and higher

National 5 English


  • Bold Girls by Rona Munro;
  • Sailmaker by Alan Spence;
  • Tally's Blood by Ann Marie di Mambro.
    • Prose

      • Short stories (a selection) by Iain Crichton Smith;
      • Hieroglyphics and Other Stories (a selection) by Anne Donovan;
      • The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson; Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.
        • Poetry

          (A selection by)

          • Carol Ann Duffy,
          • Edwin Morgan,
          • Norman MacCaig,
          • Jackie Kay.
            • Higher English


              • The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil by John McGrath;
              • Men Should Weep by Ena Lamont Stewart;
              • The Slab Boys by John Byrne.
                • Prose

                  • Short stories (a selection) by Iain Crichton Smith;
                  • Short stories (a selection) by George Mackay Brown;
                  • Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon;
                  • The Cone-Gatherers by Robin Jenkins;
                  • The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway.
                    • Poetry

                      (A selection by)

                      • Carol Ann Duffy,
                      • Robert Burns,
                      • Don Paterson,
                      • Liz Lochhead,
                      • Sorley MacLean.
                        • Original headline: Scottish texts to be measured by a different gauge

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