Increased pressure;Letter;News amp; Opinion

10th December 1999 at 00:00
IT IS GOOD to see parents like Helen Mackenzie (November 26) voicing concerns about the interminable internal assessment scheme (should that be scam?) which is Higher Still.

Can I take this opportunity, however, to comment on her assertion that while "much coverage has been given to the impact of Higher Still internal assessment on teacher workload" little has been given "to the impact on pupils"?

The papers produced by the Scottish Association of Teachers of Language and Literature over the past three years, culminating in the recent Sense and Worth, all point to the effect of Higher Still's "unworkable and undesirable" proposals upon our youngsters. Sense and Worth points out that "ironically, with Higher Still the pressure on pupils will be increased for what is likely to be a diluted outcome."

The inevitability of this is clear. Many more assessment "hurdles" are being placed between the pupil and the achievement of a Higher certificate than was the case in the past. Therefore there must be more "failures". But since all these failures will involve reassessments, that is, administrative chaos, pressure will be on departments to "lower the hurdles" to ensure that everyone "passes". This is already happening where Higher Still has been implemented.

Reports coming in from all over Scotland demonstrate that Higher Still is in serious trouble. The faults we identified in the system are manifesting themselves as we predicted. Mrs Mackenzie can rest assured that among those of us who have been campaigning for real education and against Higher Still, our concern has always been for the education system - which policies such as these seek to replace with mere training systems.

Tony McManus Scottish Association of Teachers of Language and Literature Buckstone Crescent, Edinburgh

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