Fudge from the SQA

3rd July 1998 at 01:00
I will consider Ron Tuck's promise "to maintain standards" in Higher Still English to be of some value the day he defines "controlled conditions" for the assessment of course work and explains where we will test students' ability to write formally and accurately in their own language. At every Higher Still in-service I have attended, SQA representatives have refused to provide such a definition.

We have been told that students can bring their final drafts of essays to the assessment. These will have been edited, in some cases endlessly, with the help of teachers. In such situations the "assessment" will consist of merely rewriting a combined effort.

However, while he pursues his ruthless drive for "equal parity", perhaps Mr Tuck could explain to us old fuddy-duddies, whether we are SQA officials or classroom teachers, where on earth he thinks the sub-editors of the future are going to come from. Once we are gone, there will be a lot of Highers in English but not a lot of accurate spelling or punctuation.

Bogus SQA awards and fudged assessments will not evade reality indefinitely. Eventually Mr Tuck's agenda will be seen to have cheated pupils and students who deserved genuine hurdles and improved training and teaching to help them succeed. Mr Tuck's Higher Still is no more than a patronising alteration of thegoalposts. He should not be allowed to proceed.

Frances McKie. Assistant principal teacher of EnglishAlness Academy. Ross-shire

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