Exam flexibility is assured

Parents have been given assurances that their children will be able to sit more than six subjects in fourth year if they want to.

Councillors agreed to endorse a report updating them on the implementation of the senior phase of the Curriculum for Excellence in Aberdeenshire.

The update was agreed following a lengthy discussion by councillors about how the new system would work in Aberdeenshire, and of concerns raised by parents.

For young people in secondary schools across Scotland, the Curriculum for Excellence structure will see them study a wide range of subjects to provide a broad general education until the end of S3, at which point they will move into the senior phase.

Standard Grade qualifications which used to be studied over S3 and S4 will not exist after the academic session 2012/13 but will be replaced by National Qualifications which can be studied at any time during S4–S6, alongside Highers and Advanced Highers. The senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence will begin in academic session 2013/14 and will affect all S4 pupils across Scotland.

During the meeting, Councillor Martin Ford asked if it would be possible to for pupils to sit seven or eight subjects.

Education director Maria Walker replied: “Yes. Right across Aberdeenshire and Scotland the number of subjects young people do has always varied. We have been very clear not to put a number on subjects because some young people have a different approach to their educational journey.”

Andrew Griffiths, head of education, insisted that the system would give pupils greater flexibility choosing subjects which could further their career.

Parents from Banchory and Aboyne acadamies turned out for the meeting and regularly expressed their anger during the two-hour debate.

Banchory Parent Council chairman Peter Wise was one of the speakers at the meeting.

He said: “Without heavy hands on their shoulders, teachers would be ready, willing and able to teach eight subjects in S4.

“S2 pupils are dreading S3 as they are being forced to study subjects they would rather drop. S3s are dreading S4 as they are studying six subjects in one year, and there is no light relief from a subject they are doing just because they enjoy - they are doing them because they need to.”