Blame the MTV age, not exam
Pupils do have difficulty in answering questions on imagery. This has been recognised in the most recent report from the principal assessor, who notes: "Some answers to analysis questions in general continue to be vague and rather unanalytical. There is evidence that the approach to this aspect of close reading varies significantly from centre to centre."
Well, our results at Higher have been good and buck the trend at local and national level. We teach pupils to deconstruct an image, show an understanding of the image and then explore how the writer is extending it figuratively.
Youth culture and modern media entertainment have given the MTV generation a limited ability to see past the literal, but there has been no dumbing down of Higher English.
Like the librarians praised in the close reading passages, English teachers are custodians of literature and language. Our department is a citadel. And yes, I'm confident our pupils could successfully analyse these images.