A review of Higher English is to go ahead but there would be no "kneejerk changes," a spokesman for the Scottish Qualifications Authority said this week. The review would have to take account of the curriculum reforms for 3-15 year-olds in English and literacy, which will be published in draft form shortly. The exam body had been lobbied for a review by secondary heads following concerns, revealed in The TESS on September 28, that pupils' Higher grades were not matching teachers' estimates. There have also been calls to reinstate creative writing as an examinable part of the course.
The Headteachers' Association of Scotland and the Scottish Council of Independent Schools have also won a promise from the SQA to provide guidance for teachers on the marking of Higher English papers, to improve the estimates of pupils' grades. This is particularly pressing in Higher English, where the pass mark is lower than for many subjects and thousands of candidates are bunched around the pass mark.
The teaching unions have tabled a pay claim "in line with earnings in the economy generally." This is in effect the claim of the Educational Institute of Scotland as the largest union, and will be payable from April 1 next year. The tripartite Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers will meet to consider it on December 13.
The discussions will cover part of the previous three-year deal, which committed the unions and management to reopen negotiations if the annual increase in the consumer price index exceeded 2.25 per cent last year; it was 2.33 per cent.
A statement following last week's meeting between Universities Scotland and the Education Secretary said the meeting was "constructive". The universities' demand for more money was not satisfied, although Fiona Hyslop said she "remains sympathetic" to claims for additional funding in the years ahead. In the meantime, a "joint future thinking taskforce" is being set up to look at the future of the university sector.
Sean Paterson from Coatbridge (pictured) was named Young Achiever of the Year at a Prince's Trust awards ceremony in Glasgow last week. The school underachiever had what was described as a "very traumatic life" before enrolling on a Prince's Trust programme. He is now social justice convener in the Scottish Youth Parliament.
Further work was essential to ensure children were protected in residential homes and schools, Adam Ingram, the Minister for Children and Young People, said in response to the independent review which investigated "historical abuse" of young people in residential care from 1950-95.