Local MSP Jackie Baillie has requested a meeting with Scottish Government minister Alasdair Allan MSP to discuss local parents’ calls for more resources to be made available to ensure that senior pupils at Hermitage Academy do not suffer any further disadvantage as a result of the controversial new exam system introduced last year.
The Helensburgh and Lomond MSP welcomed the changes announced at the end of 2015 which will introduce more flexibility in the curriculum model and allow pupils to sit exams in S4 in future. However she agrees with parents at the school that more action needs to be taken, particularly to help senior pupils who are already caught up in the system.
Under the new plans, current S5 pupils will have received significantly fewer class hours per subject between starting the Higher course and sitting the exam than in previous years, or will be the case for S5 pupils in future years. They will also not enjoy the same level of flexibility as current S4 pupils who will be given the opportunity to sit exams at National 5 and Higher level in multiple subjects.
Parents have also raised concerns with the MSP about the local authority’s handling of the issue and a lack of clear information and guidance on how the system works for pupils in S3 who are choosing their subjects.
Jackie has written to Argyll and Bute Council’s Director of Education, Clelland Sneddon, to express her support for more action and will meet with the Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages, Alasdair Allan, to discuss parents’ ongoing concerns.
“I called on the Scottish Government and Argyll and Bute Council to investigate the flaws in the exam system which had a negative impact on the results of so many young people last year so I am delighted that the review has led to some positive changes. The reintroduction of exams in S4 for those pupils who would benefit was one of the parents’ key demands and I am pleased that the curriculum will be more flexible in future to meet every pupil’s individual needs.
“However the parents are right to be concerned about the level of support that will be provided to pupils in S5 and S6 who are already caught up in the system. These pupils have already been let down and it is only right to provide extra class contact time ahead of the exam period in May to ensure that they can reach their full potential. Argyll and Bute Council also need to do more to support younger pupils who are making their subject choices and reassure parents that lessons have been learned for the future. I will continue to work with the Scottish Government and the council to monitor the situation and ensure that every step is being taken to improve the standard of education at Hermitage Academy