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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 06:35 GMT 07:35 UK
New Highers 'penalising' pupils
Pupils sitting exams
Thousands have sat the new Higher Still exams
A survey of parents whose children sat new Higher Still exams this year suggests too much coursework is penalising more able students.

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) said pupils taking five advanced Highers are burdened with internal assessments leaving little time for learning.

It said that pupils sitting exams in five subjects could be at a disadvantage because of the extra workload.

EIS conference delegates
EIS delegates have backed boycott calls
Last month delegates at the annual meeting of the EIS - Scotland's largest teaching union - voted to boycott next year's Higher Still assessments.

Teachers have warned they are being swamped by the extra work the new exams are generating.

Union officials said they would push for a ballot of all members if Education Minister Jack McConnell fails in his pledge to lessen the burden.

Coursework has become an integral part of the Higher Still qualification in an attempt to take some of the emphasis off exams.

Candidates now have to pass at least three internal assessments before they are allowed to sit their final paper.

Many parents questioned in a survey by the SPTC said internal assessments were good in theory.

'Excess' coursework

However, if a student is taking five Highers over one year - which is usually the maximum - the workload becomes intolerable.

The SPTC said the excess of coursework and tests means there is little time left for learning.

One of the suggestions is to make four subjects the normal maximum - a solution which would not necessarily suit all pupils.

This year's exams results will be delivered next month, with ministers and educationalists hoping that the Scottish Qualifications Authority can avoid a repeat of last year's problems.

Thousands of pupils received late, incorrect or incomplete results last summer.

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Judith Gillespie, SPTC Development Officer
"For each course there are three internal assesments plus the external assessment."
See also:

08 Jun 01 | Scotland
Teachers vote for boycott
25 Jul 01 | Scotland
Exams computer badly damaged
07 Jun 01 | UK Systems
Staying on
06 Jun 01 | Education
Heads call for A-levels inquiry
19 Apr 01 | Scotland
Exams task force set up
15 Aug 00 | Scotland
EIS seeks Higher Still review
21 Nov 98 | Education
Union confirms exam reforms boycott
07 Nov 00 | Scotland
Employers offered exams brief
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