Maths games don't add up

12th July 2013 at 01:00

I am dismayed that highly regarded mathematicians can't add up. I refer to the recent furore in the press regarding this year's Higher maths exam.

Whatever opinion you may hold about the content of the exam, its comparative difficulty with other years or how it does not meet the exam specification, now is not the time to express these views, even if they have validity.

As I wish my pupils goodbye after a hard year studying Higher maths, the conversation did not need to be adulterated with what has been published - which has, I suspect, caused countless young people throughout Scotland additional worry at a time when they have no opportunity for support, since the term is over.

I do care on a professional and personal level about the standard of the exam and its fairness in relation to other years, and believe that all students, regardless of ability should have a chance to shine and that the exam should present challenge for all, but now is not the time to question the exam, whatever the motive. As a teacher, my overriding duty of care is to my students, and I do not believe that these have been served by what has been published in the press recently.

After the Scottish Qualifications Authority envelopes have popped through students' letterboxes and the emails and text messages have been sent, a constructive dialogue will be needed about the future direction of the Higher maths exam. In the meantime, no matter how wrong anyone may think it has strayed off the mark, it cannot justify worrying students about things that they do not need to know.

Iain Mackenzie, via email.

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