Scottish texts announced, but plans met with opposition

1st March 2013 at 00:00

An updated list of texts for the controversial Scottish element of National 5 and Higher English has been revealed - but the EIS union still hopes to block plans to make assessment on them compulsory.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority published an initial list of Scottish texts in November, but has made changes after independent evaluation of 800 responses.

Teachers had been concerned about the dearth of texts featuring at both National 5 and Higher, and the inflexibility that could cause in the senior phase.

That led to additional texts - The Cone-Gatherers by Robin Jenkins and poetry by Norman MacCaig - being included in National 5, while the same poems by Carol Ann Duffy and Norman MacCaig, and the same short stories by Iain Crichton Smith, will now feature across both qualifications.

The list "reflected Scotland's rich culture and heritage and covered a range of geographical locations and time periods", said Roderic Gillespie, SQA head of Curriculum for Excellence development.

The SQA has also agreed that the list will be reviewed every three years to ensure it "remains relevant", although teachers have warned this could stretch department budgets.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan, a former English teacher, stressed that while pupils should be made to study Scottish texts, his union was still "strongly opposed" to making assessment on them compulsory. He is concerned, too, that there are not enough common texts at National 5 and Higher, despite the changes, thus reducing the opportunity for pupils to move between the two levels - a frequent practice between Higher and Intermediate 2.

"You're removing a flexibility that exists at the moment, that they're trying to get in other subjects at Curriculum for Excellence," Mr Flanagan said.

Mr Flanagan added that Norman MacCaig - "probably the most popular poet at S5" - and The Cone-Gatherers were already popular, so there was little to be gained by making assessment compulsory.

Details of the Scottish texts solely for Higher English will be published by May.

henry.hepburn@tess.co.uk.

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