Assessing the changing role of the Higher teacher;Letter

6th March 1998 at 00:00
The national executive of the Educational Institute of Scotland is calling on the Government to properly resource and otherwise support the Higher Still programme in ways that will make it feasible for staff to implement ("Call to bail out Higher Still", TESS, February 6).

While I appreciate that those negotiating on this issue at national level on behalf of the union are doing their best and have worked extremely hard on behalf of members and while the list of preconditions is laudable insofar as it goes, it must be pointed out that a fundamental problem with the Higher Still programme appears not to be addressed by the national executive position paper. I refer to the use of internal assessment for summative purposes.

Quite simply, I feel that this use of a Scotvec-type approach presupposes a fundamental change in the role of the teacher of Higher which I find quite abhorrent. I do not wish to be responsible for summatively assessing my students at this level.

None of the colleagues to whom I have spoken in my school wishes to be put in that position. As far as one can tell, classroom teachers nationally feel the same. Seven years of experience with Scotvec modules is enough to tell me that it would be far from a pleasant experience. The paragraph in the EIS paper dealing with assessment refers to workload and a demand that the assessment burden be no greater than at present.

While this is a fair and indeed crucially important point, it will not deal with the obvious consequences of using internal assessment for summative purposes, two of which will be tedious, test-driven courses and an increased psychological burden on the average teacher. This method of assessment was, as far as I can see, a result of the ill-conceived merger between the Scottish Examination Board and Scotvec. The ordinary teacher was not consulted. If he or she had been, I am sure the answer would have been the resounding "no" that is now being heard more and more.

ROBERT SIM

Norstane, Lerwick, Shetland

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