We wish to state our grave fears with regards Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). The name of this new qualification sounds aspiring, but everything we are learning about CfE suggests the exact opposite.
There is very little external examination – none at all until National 5 level. Instead schools teach, measure and award the level of attainment according to criteria that are poorly documented and poorly understood.
How can this benefit the learner? How do they use such “qualifications” to persuade employers or further educators of their base knowledge? When this will be a variable feast depending on the school attended?
We feel they will be subject to prejudice because of this new “qualification” and they will in fact at the end of schooling have to attend some other educational facility to sit for a more recognised qualification.
We are concerned that the number of subjects a learner can pursue at senior school is being set by the council, and not the school, or teachers, and certainly not by the learner. CfE is a flexible system, allowing learners to study up to eight subjects at N4-5 level. We deplore that only seven subjects are deemed “sufficient”.
We are dismayed at the policy of deliberate vagueness as to how many of these “choices” are not any such thing but compulsory – like English, maths and second language.
RMPS, social studies, and health & wellbeing may be important to offer for study but we strongly believe it is a mistake to make any of these compulsory over the offering of three science or technology subjects.
A system that is giving learners only a small number of subjects to truly choose at so early a stage cannot produce the focused individuals Shetland and Scotland needs in order to prosper within science and engineering in the future. There can be no excellence if everyone is the same.
We are also concerned that a large number of parents of learners on whom this system is being imposed are prevented from speaking out in opposition to it.
Parents who are teachers, and parents who are council employees, have been “reminded of their obligation to their employers”. Gagged, in other words. Given that a large proportion of parents in Shetland work for the council, this is a large proportion denied their voice.
Teachers are concerned that they have not received sample examination papers, teaching materials, guidance on assessment for the courses they are to be delivering. They have not been given the tools they need to do right by the learners in their charge.
John and Jeanette Clayton