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National 4 is only a starting point

I'm not sure what troubled me most about the TESS column "For what it's worth" (13 February). For a start, there was its inability - or unwillingness - to recognise National 4 English as a step towards something more challenging, especially for candidates who previously might not have been given the opportunity to study at such a level. And then there was the assumption that, because National 4 requirements seem so "devalued", teachers are preparing pupils to gain qualifications they don't deserve.

I have high expectations of all my pupils. I challenge them to reach beyond expected levels, even at National 4. I don't teach to the test and have never emphasised the "need to memorise quotations". When are we going to give teachers and pupils credit for working hard, learning more and reaching levels they previously may have found out of their reach?

Yes, perhaps the requirements of National 4 are not overly imposing, but to suggest that teachers allow their pupils to rest on their laurels is ludicrous. What the exam board expects is of only passing importance. Get there and move on; teachers in my department challenge everyone to reach further. The Scottish Qualifications Authority may expect "little evidence of ability" but we expect much, much more.

And isn't that the way to raise attainment for all? Regardless of whether you feel it is merited, let's stop criticising the SQA and get back to teaching and stretching the young people in our care.

Kenny Pieper

English teacher, East Kilbride

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