One daft idea after another

15th September 2000 at 01:00
I AM by nature an optimist - even one of the "cock-eyed" variety - but I have to admit to being seriously pessimistic about the future of Scottish Qualifications Authority exams. I am not at all convinced that they will get it right next year.

First, it seems evident that in the so-called partnership of the Scottish Vocational Education Council and Scottish Examination Board which formed the SQA it is now the former which dominates while the latter has been marginalised. Anyone who had dealings with Scotvec can testify that it could barely manage its own administration efficiently. Teachers the length and breadth of the country could fill several volumes with bizarre tales of the award and assessment of Scotvec modules.

Second, the potential for confusion will be even greater with more Higher Still-type exams coming on-stream and more schools opting in because they have no other choice. Third, I am not persuaded that there is a queue of experienced teachers ready and waiting to volunteer fr marking duties even if the SQA significantly raises the rate of payment. Finally, the exam diet for next year is already scheduled to start at least a week later.

What we are now suffering from is not simply the result of the new Higher but the cumulative effect of one daft idea after another, which began with the introduction of Standard grade; ideas which appear to be sound but in reality are confusing, unwieldy and ultimately less effective than anything we ever had before. The fundamentals, philosophy and structures

of the three major developments

in recent years - - Standard grade, 5-14 and Higher Still - were all set in stone with absolutely minimal involvement by classroom teachers.

I am not a dinosaur. I am a teacher of 25 years' experience. I care deeply about the children in our care. Is there anyone brave enough to take the system by the scruff of the neck and get it back to sanity? Sadly, I doubt it.

George Reid

Kirkintilloch Road, Bishopbriggs

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