Speak up for English

17th July 1998 at 01:00
Those who devised Higher Still did not care about genuine consultation with those who knew most about how to design a new curriculum, teachers. So we find ourselves in the terrible situation a year before the off that, in the case of English, we have nothing on paper to work on. All the time so far has been wasted. Will no one take responsibility for that?

It is not the unions who will boycott Higher Still. It will be the teachers who cannot implement what is not there or what is confused. It is not really a "workload issue" either. It is an attempt to retain the integrity of the present system and avoid the pitfalls of internal assessment. The Education Minister's own statement that "Higher Still would mean more passes and higher grades" is worrying. Is this without a diminution of standards? How?

Elizabeth Maginnis, the education authorities' leader, worries over the 60 per cent of students who fail existing Highers. Was this pass rate not intended? Will everyone now be expected to pass at Higher? And for those departments who have not been offering non-Higher students meaningful courses over the past several years, why have they not been using National Certificate courses as a means of delivering quality education? In short, the wherewithal exists right now to deliver quality, meaningful courses for all.

My own subject, English, is in particular chaos. This ought to be the subject of an inquiry and I hope, fondly, that my letter sent to the Scottish Office offering solutions might actually be read and acted upon. I thank all those who have contacted me and offered support, and ask you to make your views known to those who matter, after enjoying a great, well-earned holiday.

Eddie Poyner Bonnington Avenue, Lanark

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