For better or for worse

21st April 2006 at 01:00
Elizabeth Buie reports on the impact a faculty system had on one secondary

Exam results showed an overall improvement in one secondary school after it moved to a faculty structure - but 24 per cent of the results deteriorated.

This is revealed in a report into secondary restructuring carried out by the Teachers' Agreement Communications (TAC) team. It recommends that a monitoring system should be established to track subject performance in faculties on a regular basis.

The latest review of the faculty system, brought in by many secondary schools after the teachers' agreement flattened the promotion structure, evaluated Standard grade Credit and Higher results in science and social studies at one unnamed secondary. Overall, 76 per cent of results showed improvement or no change and 24 per cent a deterioration.

The report states: "While this seems to be a satisfactory position, it is necessary to examine whether there is cause for concern over the 24 per cent of results showing a decline. Subject results vary year-on-year and so an ongoing fluctuation is expected."

In 2001-05, average fluctuations in pass rates (comparing each year with the previous year) were:

* Science subjects: improved - 49 per cent; no change - 5 per cent; declined - 46 per cent.

* Social subjects - improved - 55 per cent; no change - 4 per cent; declined - 45 per cent.

The TAC report states: "The 24 per cent deterioration figure does not seem to be a cause for concern, being well below the average year-on-year deterioration of 45 per cent or 46 per cent in pass rates."

The team also questions whether there is any relationship between a faculty principal teacher's subject specialism and subject results. "For example,"

the report asks, "does the PT's own subject perform better than the other subjects?"

Its report concludes: "The limited amount of data available suggests that this issue should continue to be monitored, but that there are no grounds for concern at present.

"In the sciences, improvement or no change was evident in 86 per cent of results in the PT's own subject but only 65 per cent in the other faculty subjects. In social subjects, results improved or showed no change in 90 per cent of cases for the PT's own subject, but only 81 per cent of other faculty subjects."

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