Exams timetable is inadequate

18th November 2011 at 00:00
New president of School Leaders Scotland warns that the timetable for the new exam arrangements is inadequate

The new president of School Leaders Scotland will today warn that the timetable for the new exam arrangements is inadequate, when he addresses the secondary heads' annual conference in St Andrews.

Neil Shaw, headteacher of Boclair Academy in East Dunbartonshire, will tell fellow heads and deputes: "The main concerns raised at the moment are around the timing and nature of publications and information around exam arrangements.

"Courses for pupils preparing for the new National qualifications will start in June, or August, next year - only two months after final guidelines are published. We understand that the deadlines are being met. But are the deadlines appropriate? Are two months adequate?"

Mr Shaw gives a broad welcome to the 100 recommendations contained across the three main reports published this year - Donaldson (on teacher education), McCormac (on teacher employment) and Cameron (on devolved school management).

But he points out that "none of the proposals has as yet been costed" and in the current financial world, "it may be difficult to achieve the goals identified in the reports".

His chosen theme for his presidential term is "challenging leaders" and in the case of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers examining the McCormac report, his challenge is over the fitness of the job-sizing toolkit, which he describes as "inappropriate, out-of-date and unequally applied".

"In my own school it is interesting to note that dropping from five deputes to three, with a drop in roll of around 200, has no impact on job- sizing. The same tasks have to be undertaken, just by fewer people," he says.

And he issues a challenge to those who have "routinely trotted out" that 15 per cent of secondary heads are not up to the job.

"This is the same 15 per cent as was identified when I became a head in 1998. Most of that 15 per cent have retired. Who appointed the replacement 15 per cent? Are they up to their job?" he adds.

Outgoing president Jim Thewliss used his address to the conference to urge the Scottish Government to engage with SLS.

"Should Government seek an example of the failure to engage and to take notice of our concerns, then they need look no further than the SQA implosion of 2000. It might also be mentioned that it was a member of this organisation whose expertise retrieved that particular situation," he said.

Interview, page 16

Original print headline: Exams timetable is inadequate, SLS chief tells secondary heads

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