Off target on SVS;Letter

12th November 1999 at 00:00
IT WAS with some pleasure that I started to read the article on target-setting by Eric Gillies (TESS, October 22). The points made seemed to very much articulate concerns I had felt while going through the routine of analysis in our school, in that there seemed an innate danger of allowing too much credence to any set of statistical information.

The danger really seems to stem from the way in which the information is used, and that a little knowledge can in this regard cause much concern and, more importantly, allow damaging advice to be given to pupils.

The article was spoiled for me unfortunately by the reference to social and vocational skills as an "easy" Standard grade, and the inference that some schools are adopting it to enhance their target figures. He went on to refer to the Kelly factors which identify differences in difficulty between Standard grades, but did not go on to mention that these factors, different for each subject, are applied and used to "even up" the difficulty differences found. There seemed therefore a lack of logic to the way that the author tried to justify his statement that SVS was an "easy" subject.

Social and vocational skills was in fact the very first Standard grade in existence. The people involved with its creation wanted pupils to have a tangible measure of their progress in the area of social development and to this end they have been successful.

During the intervening years, parts of the special education sector have found SVS a rewarding course as it allows their pupils to cover a curriculum and receive national recognition, and concurrently some secondary mainstream schools have adopted the course using it to deliver their PSE programme.

This year's SVS conference will be held at Stirling University on November 26-27.

Graham Milne, Assistant rector, Elgin Academy, President, Scottish Association for the Teaching of Social and Vocational Skills.

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