Standard grade still has an important role to play

As a principal teacher of mathematics who has seen O grades disappear to be replaced by the much fairer Standard grades, I find it sad that schools should feel the need to go down the line of Higher Still in third and fourth years.

I can only talk for my own subject, but I feel too many teachers have lost sight a little of what Higher Still was devised for. It is a post-16 development and is used as a form of resit for missed Standard grades as well as a means of progressing from what was gained in S4.

Though the standard of Credit maths is similar to that of Intermediate 2, (as General is to Intermediate 1), there is a difference in approach. Intermediate 2 maths, for example, tests only 12-13 topics, and not to the same depth as in Credit.

I was part of a group that looked into progression from Intermediate 2 to Higher, and compared it with Credit to Higher. There were very few students who had gained an Intermediate 2 in S5 who then went on to gain a pass in Higher.

Intermediate 2 maths does not have the rigour built into it that the well established Credit has and staff may feel tempted to teach towards the Intermediate 2 exam, which will not unfortunately provide a sound basis for starting Higher.

An alternative solution for schools like St Ninian's High in East Renfrewshire, which obviously have children capable of completing Credit maths by December of their fourth year, could be to reinstate a winter diet for certain Standard grade subjects around January.

This would then encourage the retention of Standard grades in S3-S4 and at the same time allow those schools who wish to begin the Higher maths course in S4 to do so, confident in the knowledge that a Credit pass is already "in the bag" so to speak. It would also get over the problem of the two-term dash for Highers in S5.

Tom Strang Principal teacher maths Clydebank High

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you