East Renfrewshire Council postpone new Curriculum Exams

East Renfrewshire Council has announced that it needs more time to prepare for the new national four and five qualifications due to be introduced in Scotland in 2014 in line with the Curriculum for Excellence.  This means that pupils in East Renfrewshire could be sitting different exams to the rest of Scotland.

According to an article by BBC Scotland Education Correspondent, Seonag MacKinnon: “Confidence in the new curriculum for excellence has been dealt a blow by the decision of a flagship education authority to postpone implementation of new exams which are related to it.

East Renfrewshire Council, which records much higher numbers of exam passes than any other area in Scotland, says more time is needed to train teachers for the radically new courses.

The delay of a year is the latest set-back for the more open-ended curriculum which encourages staff to draw up most of their own lessons.

Supporters say it allows staff to teach modern material that is relevant to their pupils. But critics have suggested instructions to staff are so vague many are uncertain what they should be doing.

Under Scottish government plans, pupils now in the second year of secondary school are to be the first cohort to sit, in 2014, the national exams which replace Standard Grades and Intermediates.

But East Renfrewshire headteachers say they are uncertain of the detailed content of the exam courses due to start in August – which has yet to be unveiled by the Scottish government’s exam agency, the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

East Renfrewshire Council also plans to continue with the traditional exam timetable, putting pupils forward for eight exams in their fourth year of secondary school and five exams in fifth year. Preparation for the exams begins several years in advance”. Read rest of article.

As quoted in Gregor Hollerin’s article in The local Extra:

“A council spokesman denied the decision was a rejection of the Scottish government’s policy.

He said: “We must stress that we are not commenting on the quality of the new Nationals, but are using the distinctive characteristics of East Renfrewshire’s schools which offers our staff the opportunity of one further year.

“This will give our staff the opportunity to develop the new courses in a managed and measured way, ensuring that the experiences in the classroom will be as high a quality as they are at the moment.

“Our staff have engaged fully in the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence and the introduction of the new Nationals and will continue to do so”.

What Does this Announcement Mean?

With other councils admitting they will “reserve the right to delay”, obviously many schools are concerned they will not be able to implement the necessary changes in time. If East Renfrewshire Council who have some of the best schools in Scotland are concerned about this, then perhaps that would be an indication that a decision should be taken to delay the new Curriculum exams throughout Scotland.

Having Scottish pupils in neighbouring local authorities sitting different exams seems like a recipe for disaster.

What are your thoughts on this announcement?  We would welcome your comments.

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