Scotland’s independent think tank
Scotland’s independent think tank

CSR Submission: Provisions of the Education Bill

Expert body recommends earlier S4 exams, adding time to S5 courses

The Commission on School Reform, the independent group of education experts set up by the think tank Reform Scotland, has released its response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the provisions of the Education Bill.

The response, which can be read in full here, builds on previous work done by the Commission on how we can improve the examination system now, without significant and inevitably long reforms.

The Commission’s response calls for a shorter S4 examination timetable, finishing at Easter, and for the final term of S4 to be used to begin teaching on S5 Higher examinations.

Other recommendations including limiting Broad General Education to S1 and S2 only, a practice already adopted by some schools, to create extra teaching time in S3 for qualifications courses.

“In Scotland, we tend to see there is a lot of reviewing and report writing but very little actual reforming.

“Scotland’s exams system needs radical change – exams continue to be subjected to a narrow, formulaic assessment system, pupils continue to lose valuable teaching time to revision and assessment, and the system continues to fail to motivate a significant minority of pupils, exacerbating the serious behavioural issues in our schools

“Nonetheless, this will take time, and we must look at changes which could be implemented now, improving the exams system while continuing the on-going wider debate.

“Principal amongst these is the separation of the S4 assessment system from the S5/6 assessment system. If we limited the final S4 examinations to one paper, to be completed before the Easter break, we could add a full term of teaching to S5 courses. This alone would significantly enhance pupil experience and outcome, and we could do it right now.”

Carole Ford, member of the Commission on School Reform