Figures released by the Scottish Government have revealed that almost two thirds of schools have yet to roll out the new science highers.
Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Liam McArthur has said investigations are needed into the rollout of the new highers.Mr McArthur said: “Teachers are the best people to ascertain if their classes are sufficiently prepared for the new tests.
“It is with that approach in mind that Scottish Liberal Democrats called for and ultimately support the flexibility given to schools in rolling out the new Highers.
“However, it is vital that Education Scotland provides schools with the materials and support needed to give teachers confidence over the new qualifications.
“Investigations must be made into today’s figures. With as many as two thirds of schools yet to participate in the new Higher in Sciences, and only one year until all schools have to adopt them, the Education Secretary should continue to update parliament on the status of the new curriculum.”
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country’s largest union for teachers and lecturers, has commented on the broader issue of the new Highers.
EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “The EIS is interested to note that 45% of pupils will sit the existing Higher this session, with a significant number of schools having opted out of the new Higher for this year.
“The facility for schools or departments to opt out of the new Higher was only delivered after much lobbying by the EIS, and the very high take up demonstrates the wisdom of pursuing this option.
“Schools and teachers know what is best for their pupils and it is clear that, for this year, many believe that the existing Higher is the preferable choice.”
Mr Flanagan went on to highlight the substantial additional workload burden that has been placed on teachers by the introduction of the new qualifications.
He said, “The introduction of New Higher followed the implementation of National 4 and National 5 which created increased workload and stress due to the implementation timescale and assessment arrangements.
“The new Higher has in itself generated workload burdens but the worst potential effects and disastrous impact on teachers was avoided by the option for departments to have the choice of whether to implement this year or to delay implementation until 2015-2016.
“However, it is clear that the additional workload demands on teachers remain considerable and little has been delivered, by way of additional support and resources, to help alleviate this burden.”