ERC delays exams

PUPILS in East Renfrewshire could be sitting different exams to the rest of Scotland in 2014.

Schools from across the country will introduce national four and five qualifications to replace Standard grades and intermediates for the current S2 year group.

However, the council which prides itself on being the top area for exam passes in Scotland, has taken the decision to delay the introduction of new national examinations to current S1 pupils — one year later than those who currently use standard grades.

East Renfrewshire introduced Higher Still courses instead of Standard grades in 2005, with the last year group sitting standard grades being the current S3.

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”.

Meanwhile, Glasgow city council, although not following East Renfrewshire lead immediately, admitted they will “reserve the right to delay”.

A council spokeswoman said: “Our secondary schools have been working together over the last few years developing their courses to take into account Curriculum for Excellence.

“We continue to work with Education Scotland to ensure our schools deliver high quality education which meets the needs of all young people.

“There is a timeframe in place for the new examinations and we will continue to work with SQA and Education Scotland as these are developed”.

Education secretary Michael Russell stated he is “aware of the currently unique circumstances of East Renfrewshire”.

“Along with all other local authorities, East Renfrewshire is on course to make this transition and Education Scotland will be offering support to ensure this is a smooth process.

“East Renfrewshire have confirmed that the move to broad general education in S1 to S3 is being delivered in schools in the area and that no qualifications will be taken in S3”.

Secondary school pupils educated within ERC will, for now, continue to sit eight exams in their fourth year of secondary school and five exams in fifth year, with preparation beginning for these exams several years in advance.

The council made the decision to delay the switch after “extensive consultation” with teachers and headteachers.