A decision approaches;Opinion

19th June 1998 at 01:00
Will a combination of the summer holidays, the arrival of helpful materials and two days' extra in-service next session stave off revolt over Higher Still? As Brian Wilson showed in his address to a special seminar last week (page one), ministers are now willing to listen to teachers' complaints rather than face them down as the last Government might have done.

No reform comes without a measure of stress and a tail of problems. Government optimism turns on the continuing chorus of welcome for the principles of Higher Still. Discontent focusses on course content, assessment and general teacher overload. Teachers concerned about future pupils' welfare might reasonably ask for its postponement to make transition easier. Yet they are aware how impossible that would be after two years' slippage already. Mr Wilson has made clear that further postponement would be ludicrous. Nor can Higher Still come in over a long period, as happened with Standard grade. It would be impossible to run existing and "revised" Highers together, and Advanced Higher will come anyway a year after the main changes.

So there will be a point in the autumn when unions and their members have to judge whether enough concessions have been offered to forestall the boycotts that were the theme of the recent round of conferences.

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