SCOTS pupils have a ‘two-tier’’ exam system with the new National 4 qualifications “essentially worthless” teachers have claimed.
The head of one of the country’s best performing state schools has raised serious concerns claiming “a bunch of youngsters seem not to be part of the exam system”.
Meanwhile an English teacher said the new qualifications will be viewed as “for ‘the stupid kids’” or “essentially worthless”.
Standard Grades were replaced with the new National 4 and 5 qualifications in a controversial shake-up this summer.
While pupils doing the more difficult National 5s take externally marked exams all work done for National 4 qualifications is graded by teachers in school.
The lack of any externally marked papers has led to fears pupils sitting the less advanced qualification will not be taken seriously by employers or universities.
David Dempster, the headteacher of Edinburgh’s Boroughmuir High School named Scottish State Secondary of the Year in 2012, challenged the Minister in charge at a recent conference.
“Now we have created this year a two-tier system, where a bunch of youngsters seem not to be part of the exam system, and I’m not so sure it’s a good way forward,” he said to Learning Minister Dr Alasdair Allan.
This has been backed up by English teacher James McEnaney who says the popularity of #Nat4scum hashtag on Twitter is evidence of the problem.
He said: “If you are going to maintain a system which still worships at the altar of the May to June assembly-hall exam, then any qualifications which do not incorporate that – that is, the National 4 – are, without a shadow of a doubt, going to be viewed as second class, for ‘the stupid kids’ or, in the worst-case scenario, essentially worthless.”
It is not just teachers who are panicking about the new qualification with no external exams.
Iain Ellis, chair of the National Parent Forum of Scotland, said: “Parents and pupils are unclear about why some Nationals are internally marked and others aren’t.
“It gives the unfortunate impression that some qualifications have a higher value than others, which is not what we want to see.”
Learning Minister Alasdair Allan said he was “relatively impressed” with the first year of the new qualifications.
He added: “I don’t accept the charge that the [National 4 and 5] create a two-tier system.”
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, said: “[National 4 is] robust in that all work is assessed and graded by class teachers who are familiar with pupils and their particular abilities.”