[lg policy] Calls made for ‘urgent’ review of subject choices in Scottish schools

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sat Aug 11 12:01:57 EDT 2018

 Calls made for ‘urgent’ review of subject choices in Scottish schools
by Jon Hebditch <https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/author/jonhebditch/>
August 10, 2018, 6:08 am


Deputy First Minister John Swinney
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Calls have been made for an “urgent” review of subject choices in Scottish
schools amid claims the country’s educational reputation is being
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The call from the Conservative’s Shadow Education Secretary Liz Smith comes
following research by educationalist Professor Jim Scott who raised
concerns about the number of pupils passing exams – particularly in STEM
subjects, like maths and sciences, and languages.

He found that the number of S4 pupils studying and passing French has
fallen by almost two thirds since Scotland’s new curriculum was introduced.

Language entries for national four fell 12%, 4.5% for national five, 4% in
higher and 11.7% in advanced higher.

In the STEM subjects it was a similar picture, with a 13% fall at national
four, 3% at national five and 2,7% at higher.

However overall advanced higher bucked the trend with the number of pupils
sitting exams increasing by 219 and a 2.3% rise in STEM subjects.

Also the proportion of 2016/17 school leavers who found work or further
education after school was 92.9% – the highest since 2009/10.

Ms Smith said the education secretary needed to carry out a review of the

She said:  “Scottish schools were once known for the broad based education
they provided to pupils.

“Under the SNP, that gold-standard reputation is being squandered.

“The decline in subject choice is one of the biggest concerns being raised
by parents across Scotland and it’s something we’ve been raising with the
SNP for months.

“John Swinney needs to get a grip and order an immediate review into what
is going on.”

But Mr Swinney said: “Our focus is on a young person’s achievement at the
end of their senior phase, not just within a single year, and the long term
trend shows a greater proportion of young people staying on at school
beyond S4.

“Young people are gaining a broader range of qualifications and the
proportion of them leaving school with qualifications has increased in
recent years.

“Our STEM education and training strategy includes a range of actions to
improve learning at school, such as a bursary scheme of up to £20,000 for
career changers to teach certain STEM subjects…”

“Since 2013 we have invested an additional £27.2 million to help local
authorities implement the 1+2 language policy.

“There is now a broad diversity of languages offered to qualification level
and a strong interest in the skills-based awards in modern languages.”


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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