Archive for the ‘Higher’ Category

Last month I wrote a blog post (an edited version of which has also been published by TESS) in response to the SQA’s pronouncement that their new appeals process had been a success. I disagreed with this assessment, arguing that the new system would in fact exacerbate the issue of educational inequality in Scotland.

To my surprise (and I’m sure entirely coincidentally) the Labour Party’s deputy leader in Scotland yesterday attempted to go on the offensive over this very issue during First Minister’s Questions. Kezia Dugdale challenged Nicola Sturgeon over the huge drop in the number of appeals, arguing that the introduction of a fee for failed appeals had resulted in a system which benefits private schools and, consequently, disadvantages everyone else.

By all rights I should have been pleased to see this issue raised in our nation’s parliament but unfortunately – and unsurprisingly – political point-scoring (on both sides) was much more important than getting to the root of the issue. It became clear almost instantly, for example, that Dugdale doesn’t actually understand how the new system works or how it differs from the old appeals procedure, and Sturgeon’s answers suggested that she isn’t any more informed than her opposition counterpart.



Post updated 11/03/14

So today I sat down to really plan in detail what a New Higher course for next year might look like, and here is where I am so far:

Critical Essay
Poetry War Photographer – Carol Ann Duffy (studied at N5)
A Last Marriage – Virginia Hamilton Adair
Refugee Mother and Child – Chinua Achebe
Prose Spiritual Damage – Fergal Keane (studied at N5) [non-fiction text]
A Letter That Never Reached Russia – Vladimir Nabokov
TBC Text
Scottish Set Text
Drama The Slab Boys – John Byrne


Other options for poetry critical essay texts were/are:

TBC text will be a choice of the following:

  • Neighbours – Zoe Wicomb
  • I Only Came to Use the Phone – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Spring in Fialta – Vladimir Nabokov

Having focused on drama for the Scottish Set Text, I think it’s definitely the way to go for the Higher. The long term plan (for some of the National 5 texts to double up as higher texts) also looks like it has come together well, as the above list provides a range of options allowing pupils to choose from three different categories of critical essays questions, which will hopefully ensure that they get the best possible mark in this section of the exam.

I have now started making the units for the texts above, managing to get the paper format for ‘Refugee Mother and Child’ and ‘A Last Marriage’ ready (I’ll put them both online soon); I’m also planning to turn each of these into an online ActiveTextbook like the ones I previously produced for ‘War Photographer‘ and ‘Spiritual Damage‘ and hope to have this done in time for the new course starting in June.