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I'm more able - and I'm not being taught properly

The first two primary schools I attended were in stark contrast with one another. The first was located on the south side of Glasgow and had more than 600 pupils. The second was situated on an island just off the west coast of Scotland and had only 200 students in the primary and secondary combined.

The small scale meant that teachers got to know the pupils as individuals. As a result, they picked up that I was significantly more academically capable than other students in my year. I was tested and became part of the population labelled "more able". The school then kept on challenging me to develop my learning.

I later moved schools for the third and final time. I have enjoyed my time here but I have never felt that I was being pushed the way I was before, the way I needed to be.

Although I was given extension exercises, they were only at the same, undemanding level. The attitude was that if I was finished first, great, I could wait for everyone else to be done. If I was getting 100 per cent in my work, I could do more of it.

I was asked not to take part in maths lessons because I "wasn't giving anyone else a chance to get the answer". I was always being held back so that others could catch up with me, rather than being encouraged to improve my abilities. Is this the way a school should function - placing boundaries on learning so that teachers don't have to deal with marking different levels of work?

Some of my teachers have stood out in their efforts to make education an exciting experience of infinite enlightenment. But they shouldn't be a minority group - where's the dedication from everyone else to broaden knowledge outside the classroom?

When people look at improving schools, they focus on those slipping below the required standard. But attention should also be given to those who are working above what is expected of them.

I don't have an in-depth knowledge of teaching so I cannot offer an automatic solution. But I have spent almost 12 years of my life in full-time education, so who better to point out areas for improvement?

Isabella Dunn

Highers student

For more on highly able students, see page 16

Short and tweet

Pretty big round of applause on #QuestionTime for the suggestion that teachers needn't be qualified.


@TESScotland Inevitable that contempt for professional elites would reach teaching. US populist Right wishes to abolish medical qualifications.


@Rokewood @TESScotland And let's go back to unpasteurised milk because pasteurisation is a conspiracy.


Speaking with young people today to discuss the classic quote "Sticks and stones." Can violence start with words?


Closing the attainment gap should start in early years. Time to reduce the adult-child ratio, and give staff protected preparation time.


School must be fleet of foot, ever-changing, self-reflective and constantly focused on aligning with kids' needs in the real, changing world.


"Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall." Confucius


Letters for publication in TESS should arrive by 10am Monday. Send your letters, ideally of no more than 250 words in length, including contact address and phone number, by email to or by post to TES Scotland, Thistle House, 21-23 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1DF. Letters may be edited

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