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Last Updated: Monday, 1 March, 2004, 10:57 GMT
Plans to lower exam age
Exam - generic
There are regulations on the age at which pupils can take standard exams
Children as young as 14 could soon be taking their standard grade exams in Scotland, following an executive pledge on flexible education.

A consultation process will take place into the age requirements governing when pupils can take exams.

Education Minister Peter Peacock announced the move on Monday.

He said: "Every child is unique and that is why a 'one size fits all' approach to education is simply inappropriate."

Mr Peacock said he believes Scotland's school curriculum and exams system must be flexible enough to help all children achieve their full potential.

He was speaking during a visit to Keith Grammar School, Moray, to see a pilot project that allows pupils to sit Standard Grades in S3 and increases opportunities for further study in S4-S6.

The next stage of the curriculum review will also be launched shortly, said Mr Peacock.

The Keith project could help to prevent the dip in attainment which traditionally occurs in S1 and S2
Peter Peacock
Education Minister
He added: "Our curriculum must be adaptable to meet differing needs, allowing schools and councils to tailor solutions to individual pupils.

"To achieve this we must not be afraid to adopt innovative solutions and share best practice.

"That's why I and many other schools and councils throughout Scotland will monitor progress at Keith Grammar with interest and ensure lessons are learned.

"The Keith project could help to prevent the dip in attainment which traditionally occurs in S1 and S2 as well as allowing senior pupils to work at their own pace and, possibly, enjoy links with higher or further education.

"The need for curriculum flexibility is why we are undertaking a fundamental review of the curriculum.

Age regulations

"We are also preparing to consult on the future of the age and stage regulations that govern when pupils sit exams as we must ensure that bureaucracy does not prevent schools embracing flexible solutions."

The Keith Grammar School project has received more than 180,000 through the Scottish Executive's Future Learning and Teaching (Flat) programme.

The rector of Keith Grammar School, John Aitken, said he would be delighted to invite the minister back in two years time to show him how pupils in the senior school have "gained much more varied and relevant experience".

Age and stage regulations were originally intended to provide a regulatory framework to prevent pupils sitting exams before they were sufficiently mature.

Under existing arrangements, schools can apply for younger pupils to sit exams where the individual has demonstrated sufficient maturity.

The forthcoming consultation will consider the future of these regulations and seek views on maintaining them, relaxing them or abolishing them.

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