Curriculum for science

7th March 2008 at 00:00
Tom Balanowski head of physics at Linlithgow Academy

"The science teachers were ready for Curriculum for Excellence, but it all seems to have lost momentum. There is growing frustration among the profession.

"The science outcomes are broad and empowering. But models of good practice need to be identified. There is no mention of assessment, so it is unclear how Levels 1 to 4 will fit with National Qualifications.

We need clarification on progression. Somebody has to decide on Standard grade and the flow from S3-4. It's out to consultation, which is good, but it is going on and on.

Communications are a problem. We get messages through the grapevine and teachers are expected to learn about it all from websites. But when they're up to their eyes they don't always do that. A clear letter of intent to schools would be useful.

There are too many unknowns. We need to know how the model will change what we do. Science teachers are looking for more action. We need clear deadlines published nationally."

Fran Macdonald head of chemistry at Glasgow Academy

"Science is about problem-solving and getting kids to think - and that is what's behind Curriculum for Excellence and the new outcomes.

Assessment is a major concern, however. We are not getting any answers. I've been to every meeting I can and I've talked to SQA and the Curriculum for Excellence team. Nobody can give me an answer.

The new science outcomes are open-ended. It's like the 1970s, when the syllabus was very broad and you had to look at examinations to see which aspects to focus upon.

As a senior examiner for Higher Chemistry and a senior moderator for Standard grade and National Qualifications, I want to know how and at what points we do national assessment. We seem to be looking at independence of the regions to do their own thing.

How do we bring the national cohort together with a common experience, so that we can examine kids in a valid way? I am concerned that candidates are going to be disadvantaged.

The outstanding problems are to identify chronological points of national assessment - and to make sure it's a level playing field for all the pupils."

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