Two-tier education fear over new exam

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A MOTHER has accused a high school in the Capital of limiting her son’s learning opportunities under subject caps introduced as part of Scotland’s new exam system.

The parent is furious after it emerged her son’s course options at National 5 level had been restricted to six subjects.

She said S3 counterparts at Boroughmuir, James Gillespie’s, Royal and Balerno high schools were allowed to take eight. She fears the disparity is a sign the city now has a “two-tier” education system.

Her son had decided to drop drama and art – two of his favourite subjects – because of the cap, she said.

National 5s have replaced Standard Grade Credit exams following a comprehensive reform, with the first tests taken by pupils during the 2013-14 session. Pass rates are due to be published later this year once detailed guidance has been received from the Scottish Government.

The mother, who asked not to be named, said: “It should be standard for everyone or there should at least be a choice.

“My friends’ kids are 
getting to do eight subjects but my son’s school is capped at six.

“They’re continuing to do the subjects they did last year, while my son is having to drop two because he’s thinking about what he needs to get into university.

“Their rationale is to focus on six and do as well as possible in those.

“But the fact is there’s a disparity, no matter how you dress it up.”

And she said staff had failed to seek families’ views.

“The council said it’s up to the school and the parents but we were never consulted – we were told,” she said.

Education officials confirmed most of the city’s 23 secondaries had opted to limit the National 5 timetable to six subjects, although some pupils have been able to take additional courses under extra-curricular arrangements.

It is understood many youngsters aiming for eight exams are likely to prepare over two years, while those taking six would sit tests after one session. A council spokeswoman said: “Schools are continuing to develop their own senior phases which best meet the needs of their pupils and local communities.”

A spokeswoman for Education Scotland, the national standards body, added: “Decisions on the pattern and number of subjects being offered over S4-6 are made by each school, based on meeting the needs of young people.”