Higher Still fears

4th April 1997 at 01:00
Astrid Ritchie (TESS, March 28) is less than ingenuous. To many of us struggling to make Higher Still a success and a valuable contribution to the future prospects of our young people and adults wishing to return to education, her contribution is ill timed, partisan and unhelpful.

The College Lecturers' Association of the Educational Institute of Scotland has, from the start, broadly welcomed the Higher Still proposals, not least because they offer the prospect, at long last, of parity of esteem for pupils and students wishing to achieve vocational qualifications.

It does not matter what the EIS was saying in April 1994. We have all moved on since then. Now the EIS is broadly supportive. Many difficulties remain, however. The fear of over-assessment, endemic in the Scotvec system, remains great. These concerns are fundamental, yet for Astrid Ritchie they merit not a comment.

Her assertion that resources are adequate for the tasks of implementation rings hollow. How can an expansion of choice and opportunity be possible during a period of diminishing resources?

Nor will it impress that Astrid Ritchie attempts to drive a wedge between teachers and local authority schools on the one hand and those who work in the independent sector or colleges on the other.

A fruitful partnership to deliver Higher Still in its full potential will require the abandonment of political posturing all round.

JOE EYRE President EIS College Lecturers' Association

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