Higher Still worked for us

11th February 2000 at 00:00
WHILE I read last week's cri de cour from Doreen Thomson on Intermediate 1 English with a degree of sympathy, I feel she is being unduly pessimistic, as well as forgetful.

The members of our department, who've been around a bit, volunteered unanimously to take on Intermediate 1 and 2 this session, not because of what these courses are, but because of what they are not: Communication 3.

By and large, I think we, and our students, have found it a

reasonably positive experience. I've got an Intermediate 1 section which began with a complement of 22, half of those bilingual


Three left at Christmas; one just left; two are struggling. But the remaining 16 are giving it a real go. I've got 17 specialist studies, one of them almost 2,500 words, in my desk, and they're not at all bad for students who scored 4 and 5 at Standard grade. One boy, who scored 4 at Standard grade, will be presented at Intermediate 2, and I think he'll gt it.

In the past, sections like the one described above would have provided a grim time for all concerned. Now, however, there are a number of motivational factors at work.

Intermediate 1 students feel part of the same framework as their more able peers. The necessary pace of the work and, it must be said, the existence of internal assessments, keeps more students on their toes. Finally, the superior appearance and quality of the new material (he said modestly) helps students to feel that they are being taken seriously.

Before I am condemned as a bosses' man, let me absolve myself. I do like the superstructure of Higher Still. However, in terms of substructure, the quality and delivery of support and assessment materials, and the performance of the Higher Still Development Unit and the Scottish Qualifications Authority have been lamentable.

George Forfar

Principal teacher of English

Shawlands Academy


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