SSTA challenges Angela Constance to defer CfE Advanced Higher in 2015/16

Seamus Searson, SSTA General Secretary said “we continue to be alarmed by the lack of respect for teachers’ professional judgement shown by the Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance in refusing to sanction a dual running of the Advanced Highers in 2015/2016. The overriding concern of SSTA members is this will adversely impact on our young people”.

Angela Constance said, on 3 February, that she had not yet heard a “compelling case” for new Advanced Highers to be run in tandem with the existing qualifications for an extra year. This is in spite of the SSTA writing to the new Cabinet Minister with detailed concerns on the dangers of pushing ahead on 15 January.

The SSTA used evidence brought forward from members in an Edinburgh Secondary School which echoed the views and experiences of SSTA members across Scotland.

The SSTA members in the school had embraced Curriculum for Excellence from its inception but felt that the manageability of the changes was overwhelming and it would be to the detriment of the young people in their school if flexibility was blocked.

It appears that

  • the race to implement is more important than the needs of the students
  • the difference in the examinations has been under-estimated
  • the continuous expectation that teachers will deliver improvements regardless of the extra planning and increased assessment despite the lack of materials and the time to study and prepare materials

In addition to these concerns, the teachers pointed out the following:

  • We are still trying to evaluate, amend and develop National 4/5 courses.
  • We are trying to meet the needs of all learners by developing National 3 courses, which we did not have time to offer last year.
  • We need to adapt National 4/5 courses to meet the needs of mixed level classes.
  • We have to maintain the learning and teaching experience for all year groups, who have come to expect engaging lessons. Currently we have too little time for daily planning of lessons for pupils in S1-S3 and our ‘new’ broad general education courses have still not been evaluated and amended, due to lack of time.

Robert Macmillan, SSTA Acting President said

“We hope that the Cabinet Secretary will reconsider her decision in the light of these comments and present circumstances, and allow schools to delay implementation of the new CfE Advanced Higher by one year if they wish, as many opted to for the new Higher. This practical measure would demonstrate to secondary teachers that the Government is genuinely listening to their concerns and will show the public that the educational needs of young people are put first”.

Seamus Searson added

“Throughout the implementation of CfE the SSTA has attempted to signal real concerns about progress. We have been careful about appearing alarmist and at all times wished to contribute positively to its successful implementation. There is still time to achieve this and it is for that reason we insist that that the Cabinet Secretary listens to the voice of the professionals in our schools”.

Further information from

Seamus Searson
General Secretary
0131 313 7300

Advanced Higher 2015-2016 11 feb 15