Changes to National 5 courses- the elimination of mandatory unit assessment and the adjustment of exam and/or assignment weightings in determining candidates’ final grades- take effect from this session.
Two different pathways exist at National 5 level: the N5 course or discrete N5 Units. In effect, the vast majority of students undertaking study at N5 level, will be presented for either the N5 course, assessed by the final exam OR N5 Units only, if this is thought to be the more appropriate alternative. In general, students should not be entered for both.
The Deputy First Minister has taken a decision that, for this session only, schools can, for small numbers of students who may be at risk of failing the N5 exam, present them for both the N5 course and Units.
Education Scotland will be monitoring presentation patterns with a view to ensuring that schools adhere to these principles. Presentation practice within a school that strays beyond these parameters should be reported to the Local Association Secretary in the first instance.
While the aim of last session’s industrial action was the removal of mandatory unit assessments in the interests of workload reduction, the EIS recognises the immediate workload impact of their removal, largely because of the minimal notice provided by the SQA of the specifics.
Nationally, the EIS has written to local authorities and the Scottish Government alerting them to the additional demands that short-notice publication in the summer term of the detail of the N5 course changes, placed on teachers.
We sought their support in ensuring that the requisite time to address the changes would be provided. A request was made to the Deputy First Minister for an additional inservice day to create time for teachers to consider and respond to the changes (and for Primary colleagues to address the implications of SNSAs on approaches to assessment, also).
The request was declined though the DFM has indicated that the matter will be kept under review. The EIS will continue to push for this and will seek further feedback from secondary teachers in the coming weeks and months regarding the workload impact of the N5 changes.
Additionally, the EIS will continue to lobby the SQA and Education Scotland for the provision of good quality support materials for use in the delivery of the amended N5 courses, and for clear, manageable and timely communication to schools on the changes to assessment within Higher courses, due next session.
The Assessment and National Qualifications (ANQ) Review Group continues to engage in discussion of the National 4 qualification.
The EIS has called for adjustments to the qualification for this session or, at the very latest, next session, to address the concerns that members have raised in relation to study at N4, and to address its relationship to the wider issues around senior phase curriculum design, learner pathways and presentation patterns.
The SQA has indicated its intention to consult stakeholders on the National 4 qualification in the coming months, with a view to making changes to the qualification as appropriate following introduction of those to Higher. The EIS will continue to pursue the matter within the ANQ Review Group and with the SQA.