Your views

14th November 2014 at 00:00

Lodging an appeal against the verdict on National 5

I refer to your article "Assessors deliver their verdict on National 5", which appeared last week. In particular, I would like to reply to some of the extracted comments that you highlighted.

On the maths report: "A number of maths candidates were `perhaps inappropriately presented at this level' and got very low marks." And on the French report: "French teachers are told to be `very encouraged'.even though some pupils were `clearly not presented at the appropriate level'."

I find this perplexing. To be presented for a National 5 exam, pupils must pass a number of "end of unit assessments" that are supplied by the Scottish Qualifications Authority. If you pass these, you are "entitled" to sit the exam. If you don't, you can't gain the final award. I cannot imagine a scenario where a school declines to present a pupil for the final exam after they have passed all these unit assessments. How would you explain it to a parent? There would be uproar.

Of course, the real reason for a pupil passing the unit assessments but being "inappropriately presented" is that the assessments are too simplistic and bear no relation to the final exam. Teachers are left with no alternative but to design further tests to assess pupils at the far more demanding exam level - meaning two sets of assessments at least in each unit, and most courses have three units. If the aim of Curriculum for Excellence was to reduce the burden of assessment, that mark has been well and truly missed.

I would also like to point out that the teachers who wrote the assessors' report are a self-selecting group: they probably support the whole aim of the SQA exam and assessment system or they would not have volunteered to become a marker in the first place. A more meaningful "reporting" system on the success or otherwise of the first year of National 5 would surely involve a wider cross-section of the teaching public.

Nick Forwood

Principal teacher of physics

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