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The truths they don't want you to read....

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Exam results

With children everywhere having received their results, their thoughts must turn to the future, and what they are going to achieve with those results.

The high-flyers have a clear path. Those who are less academic are waiting for an opportunity to leave school. Those in the middle - the majority - may need just some encouragement to get decent grades and hence improve their prospects.

For the benefit of those who (like me) only understand Ordinary, Higher Grade and CSYS, the qualifications are now:
LevelQualifications included
7Advanced Higher @ A-C
6Higher @ A-C
SCE Higher A-C
5Standard Grade @ 1-2
Intermediate 2 @ A-C
4Standard Grade @ 3-4
Intermediate 1 @ A-C
3Standard Grade @ 5-6
Access 3 Cluster

I hear that pupils in the Nicolson Institute who got a "2" at Standard Grade (Level 5 on the chart) are NOT being allowed to progress to Highers. The reason being given by the new Rector is that they are unlikely to pass Highers, and will drag the performance statistics down.

Now, this may be correct - on average - for the average pupil, but where does this leave pupils who had a "bad day" when they sat Standard Grade; those who aspire to do better; or those parents who want to push their children after a bad result?

The answer seems to be that they are being left in limbo.

Despite repeated and continual demands from parents, the new rector is not moving from his stance.

So what do parents and pupils do, when there are no reasonable alternatives educational opportunities for the kids? It is not practicable for parents to move their children to Sir E Scott School in Tarbert, Harris which is the nearest school offering Highers. For the benefit of those outside the islands, it is 40 miles from Stornoway, across the highest hills on the islands, a journey that is frequently disrupted by bad weather.

Are the children being made to resit Standard Grades until they get a "1"? Where does this leave a student who got seven 2's? How many children does this affect? How many children who get 2's in Standard Grade attain level 6, and how many who get 1's don't attain level 6?

All these questions and more remain unanswered, yet a number of children are now being branded as failures and their future prospects being diminished with no chance of appeal and no alternative educational choices available.


Anonymous said...

Firstly I will begin by praising the many good teachers at the NI who have an empathy with the pupils, But as a recent ex parent of the Nicholson we have had a constant battle with the NI and the education dept over various issues.
Some teachers should have been put out to grass years before they were, the school and the education dept consistently ignored teachers who had problems, who knows how many pupils this affected.
You will know who the good teachers are, one regret I have is that I did not make a bigger fuss when my children were being taught by teachers who were obviously not up to the job, or not suited to my children, I would urge anybody else not to make the same mistake.
Go in there and make a fuss, and continue to do it till you get the results you want.
Standard grade English pupils in there final year never had a full time English teacher, just locums and often just a non English Teacher supervising.
There are no lockers for the children to leave their books in, try the weight yourself, health and safety regs wouldn't allow a labourer on a building site to regularily carry these weights, this was brought to the Schools and education dept notice 8 years ago yet nothing has been done.
I asked an English teacher what could be done to help my child with her English, she told me to hire a tutor.
The School organised sixth form pupils who should have been studying for their own exams to act as paid tutors for standard grade students rather than provide the facility themselves.
The afterschool study groups regularily fail to provide specalist teachers.
Why are the children allowed to rampage down the town at lunchtimes, what is the " in loco Parentis" status at this time?
The School canteen can not accomodate all the pupils at the school, The rubbish that you see these kids eating is just storing up problems.
Every year at about this time you will see over 100 first year kids trying out for the football team, 20 are accepted the rest are rejected, this happens with other sports such as Basketball, why if there are 100 kids wanting to play organised football within the school is provision not made for that, the current sports set up within the school is unhealthy and elitist.
A few years back a School team were flown down to a final at hampden, some of the team vandalised the plane on the way back yet the same players were allowed to take part in the North of Scotland final a few weeks later.
Petty rules exist within the School and education department which impact on the quality of your childrens education, such as not being allowed to wear jackets in classrooms.
I agree with Angus that the best interests of the child are being harmed by rules such as not being allowed to sit a Higher if you got less than a one at standard grade.
I managed to challenge a simmilar rule this year, but then found that my child was being penalised by teachers because of it, she was told by a head of department just before going into the exam that " she could sit the exam but there was no point as she would fail it anyway".
If the rector wont allow your child to sit highers and both you and your child feel this is the best thing for the child don't take no for an answer, ask him to explain why he feels his School does not have the ability to educate your child.
I don't know what it is like now but I only found out recently that drugs were freely available within the schoolduring my childrens time at the NI.
Appologies for the rant but this was only a sample of the problems that we encountered over the years.

Anonymous said...

Should performance statistics not be shown as a percentage of the total number of pupils in the year group

Year Group no = 100
Number presented for examination in subject say 50
Number passed say 40

Makes 40% success rate overall
(My interpretation of the scenario)

But 80% success rate if you discount those who did not sit for whatever reason.(Head Teachers Interpretation, for submission to Executive(?))

I am afraid that the NI is not the only school choosing to manipulate the performance statistics in this manner.

Now if we all came out with 5 straight A's, University's would be unable to cope, there would be a serious excess of Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants (even),and various other potential "High-Flyers", however there would be an even more chronic shortage of all those required in support of an educational elite upper class.

Am I being too cynical


Anonymous said...

I am shocked that those achieving a 2 in standard grades are not being allowed to progress onto Highers. When I was in the NI I achieved 5 x grade 1 and 2 x grade 2 in my standard grades, I progressed onto Highers and yes there was a big jump but....the subjects I got the best grades in at the end of 5th year were the ones I had "only" managed to get a 2 on in Standard Grade. A grade 2 is a credit level pass and as such pupils should be allowed to proceed onto Highers, as they would be allowed to elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure about this? Does your source know of anyone who this has happened to? Maybe in a handful of cases where the teacher's professional judgment is sought, but a blanket policy?

I also have a source who tells me that they know of plenty of s.grade 2 pupils who are going on to do higher without any interference from on high.

p.s. there is an appeals process for pupils who have a "bad day".

Angus said...

My source is the parent of one of the children involved and advises that there is a blanket policy being applied by the Rector to all children.

If anyone can tell me I am wrong about this policy, or if there is a good educational reason for it, I'd be very happy to publicise it.

Simple question: does any reader have a child at the Nicolson Institute who got a "2" and can give us the benefit of their experience?

BTW: I got 2's at some of my exams at which I later passed the Higher. One of my teachers said I would get a D in one Higher when I got an A; so professional judgement doesn't always work.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 5th year pupil who has recently got my standard grades results and I got 3 2's and to find out the only higher out of them I was allowed to take was Gaelic, and I was refused English because I got a 3 in the reading but a 2 in the writing and talking, and history and I quote ' pupils who tend to get grade two in history 'statically don't pass higher. well to be honest I don't expect to get a grade a I would be over the moon with a b. but I agree with a earlier comment about having a bad day I get really nervous in an exam and my mind goes blank. so why just judge us on our exam what about the 2 years of course work?that doesn't even count?? and to another point the 'so called rector' all he cares about is having high passes and a this rate he may have 100% in higher passes, but it will only be about 4 or 5 sitting higher! and Angus I can agree with you cause at the moment im trying to prove that I am capable of passing higher.. last time I checked you didn't need an A to pass. so why are us 5th years being penalised for getting grade 2's in our S.G? a few teachers say if I can prove before October they will move me up and I know its not the teachers fault its the people higher up but how will I know if they will or not.anyways im blabbering here so im just going to say the 'rector' deserves a kick up the ass and to realise that he should focus on the individuals not the statistics.

Unknown said...

If this is true then the new rector should be removed from his post immediately. His duty should not be to ensure that his school meets performance targets but to ensure that the pupils are properly educated and so afforded the best chance to succeed in life.

Properly educated pupils will be more likely to achieve a pass at all levels and the meeting of performance targets would then arise naturally. The rector's approach here seems like a cynical move to make him (and the school) look good at the expense of the pupils.

Anonymous said...

unlucky to all those people at the NI. im my school i achieved mostly 2s at standard grade and an int 2 for english (even with a "C" grade pass which does not usually qualify) and i was able to take up highers in them all (:

also i am now doing an open learning higher to which i have no experience in the subject.
i am a 5th year pupil and i must say i pity those who will under-achieve.