Where Howie feared to tread

22nd October 2004 at 01:00
It is scarcely the worst kept secret in Scottish education that the Standard grade qualification, if not necessarily the course, is likely to have a limited shelf-life. The advent of National Qualifications has clearly challenged its role. The Education Minister has looked overseas and found Standard grade to be "anomalous". The Executive is already committed to reducing the leaving qualifications taken in S4-S6. And now, from south of the border, comes the Tomlinson report on 14 to 19-year-olds.

It is very radical: one can only imagine the uproar the Howie committee would have generated if it had recommended sweeping away Standard grade and Highers, the equivalent of what Tomlinson is suggesting. The English reformers have at least learnt one lesson from Scotland and set out a 10-year timescale.

But the Tomlinson message is clear: there is, as our Education Minister put it, too cluttered a qualifications landscape and increased staying-on rates make a leaving exam at 16 somewhat anomalous, while at the same time placing too much pressure on pupils, teachers and the system. There was an argument for testing the market and retaining Standard grade while National Qualifications were bedding in. But that time has passed and the Executive should be emboldened by Tomlinson.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now