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21st March 2014 at 00:00

`Stepping stone' is out of reach for some students

With the avalanche of changes sweeping the valley of Scottish education, have we forgotten about our less able students? The new National qualifications aim to make learning more student-centric, while broadening activities and ways of assessment. They are also flexible and designed to provide a stepping stone from National 5 to Highers. However, do they cater for the needs of all students? Here are some queries and qualms I have.

First, many subjects have an assignment attached to National 5 and an added value unit (similar to the assignment) in National 4. There is significant emphasis in the assignment on students researching and planning in their own time. However, many of the less academic students in National 4 have never been faced with a task like this and sadly haven't learned the skills to plan, research and work independently. So how are class teachers meant to ensure that they have a level playing field when we have to keep on teaching and can't simply put the course on hold to devote weeks to an added value unit workshop?

Second, what happens to the students who hobble through National 4, especially the added value unit section? What do they do next? In S5 can they do a two-year National 5 qualification? Many won't be ready to leap from National 4 to National 5 in one year.

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