Higher Still feels bi-level;Letter

29th May 1998 at 01:00
DURING an in-service last week on the introduction of Higher Still courses on graphic communication in design, engineering and technology, the Higher Still Development Unit made reference to the fact that its implementation did not introduce the principle of bi-level (or call it any other name) teaching, and one must agree. Many of us are at present engaged in tri-level teaching for Standard grade Foundation, General and Credit levels.

Yet Higher Still does introduce a series of courses split into 40-hour units, combined with the high probability of concordant bi-level assessment in a multi-unit scenario within the 40-hours blocks.

It is accepted that in many schools for cost reasons courses will be taught at levels Intermediate 2 and Higher in mixed-ability groups. Unfortunately, these courses were not designed to piggy-back neatly on each other. Yes, there are areas of major similarity, but also areas where the courses aim to achieve different learning outcomes. Teachers would therefore be supporting and assessing two levels of 40-hour course units.

However, both courses have introduced a new 40-hour unit on computer graphics, and I would doubt that most graphics classrooms contain enough computers to allow the full teaching group to cover both boardwork and computing units at the one time. Therefore pupils could require extraction into another classroom, and another area of work would require to be monitored and assessed at perhaps two levels.

I have, of course, extracted pupils within the existing Higher course that runs for some 30 weeks and, with little formal assessment apart from class tests and the "prelims", have used the flexibility in time to ensure that pupils gained the necessary expertise and knowledge. I feel that such flexibility will be lost in Higher Still and a teacher's ability to monitor and control bi-level assessment of the many units would be overstretched.

Ian Tennant Nigel Rise, Dedridge, Livingston

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