At a glance headlines: SecEd Scotland

Written by: Sam Phipps | Published:

A drop in the pass mark for Higher maths and a 100-mile polar trek for students are among the at a glance headlines for SecEd's all-Scotland edition, published on August 27, 2015.

Attainment gap

The Scottish government has rejected a £300,000 appeal from Glasgow council to pay for extra tuition for secondary pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Ministers told education officials that money from the £100 million Attainment Scotland Fund was only available for primary schools.

The decision was revealed in a report on Glasgow's plans to close the attainment gap, which has become a national priority under first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

So far, money has been allocated to boost literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing projects in seven councils, including £3 million for projects in Glasgow.

The report states that many teachers provide support to young people during lunchtimes and after school in a voluntary capacity. The council said it was now seeking alternative sources of funding.

Appeals reform

Ministers are under pressure to reform how exam appeals are paid for after the Scottish Conservatives said the current system had created a postcode lottery.

A new system of exam appeals was introduced last year by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to cut down on bogus appeals as part of a wider shake-up. The costs range from £10 for a check to see if the marks have been added up correctly to £39.75 for a full review.

Although no charge will apply if a mistake has been made, local authorities must decide whether the costs are paid for out of central funds or school budgets. Liz Smith, the Conservatives' young person spokeswoman, said she had written to education secretary Angela Constance urging her to take action.

Mathematical difference

The pass mark for a heavily criticised new Higher maths exam was dropped to just 33.8 per cent after it was judged too difficult.

The SQA set this as the mark for a C compared to 43 per cent for the existing maths Higher, which was run on the same day. Pupils were given an A in the exam for achieving 60 per cent against 69 per cent for the old Higher.

Even with the alterations to the grade boundaries, pupils sitting the new Higher were much less likely to attain an A or a B grade, according to a report in the Herald newspaper.

The figures emerged after the SQA accepted the new Higher, which has been reformed to fit in with wider changes to the curriculum, was too difficult.

After the exams, two internet petitions were started to highlight the problems. One stated: "Students, teachers and parents alike are in disbelief at the exam set by the SQA for Higher maths. It bore no resemblance to the course studied and specimen papers provided."

Valuable trek

Teenagers taking part in a 100-mile polar trek aimed at boosting their confidence and broadening their horizons, will also be conducting scientific experiments.

The first Polar Academy expedition took place in April, when 10 young people from two secondaries in North Lanarkshire accompanied the charity's founder Craig Mathieson to Greenland.

A selected group has just started training for next spring's trip. On their return they will present an account of their experiences to thousands of pupils around Scotland.

Steve Lee, founder of space technology firm AstroSat, which provides communications gear for the trips, has also tasked the teams with collecting ice samples for the European Space Agency to help create a colour-coded satellite map, showing the age and stability of the ice sheet.

"Maybe when they come back they will want to work with the British Antarctic Survey, or become astrophysicists and space engineers," he added.


Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Claim Free Subscription