Wrong mode for attainment;Letter

12th June 1998 at 01:00
Target-setting may have been condemned by the teacher unions, universities, headteachers and opposition parties, but at the chalkface there is the annual discussion about how achievement can be improved.

There always has been such discussion. Target-setting in its current form is an insult because it implies that before the policy began, we were not really concerned enough or not putting in enough effort to maximise our students' potential.

However, I can think of one way we could really improve attainment in fourth-year Standard grade exams - if Brian Wilson would like to be radical.

In schools up and down Scotland the third-year exam results have just come out. It is not uncommon for a student who is being presented in six, seven or eight subjects to fare badly in just one. It may be that the student is simply "overloaded", a teacher was frequently absent, there were too many exams.

However, let us "mention the unmentionable". Many students fare badly because they are forced to do each of the "curricular modes" and may be bored rigid in a language or science or a social subject. Yet if a student has attained a grade 7 in her S3 report for a science subject, would it not be better if she did additional work in modern studies where her grade 3 in third year could move up to a grade 2 in fourth year? Are we really serious about improving attainment or not?

John Lloyd

Strathbeg Drive, Dalgety Bay West, Dunfermline

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