Flag­ship qual­i­fi­ca­tion has failed the test

The Scotsman - - International -

Who can blame pupils and par­ents now for ut­ter con­fu­sion over the stand­ing of Scot­land’s flag­ship ed­u­ca­tion qual­i­fi­ca­tion, the Bac­calau­re­ate? It was sup­posed to be the out­stand­ing mark of ex­cel­lence to which schools as­pired. Now they are find­ing that it does not have the cur­rency they ex­pected of it within uni­ver­si­ties.

Pupils and par­ents are told that high­ers re­main the gold stan­dard in Scot­land. But what is the stand­ing even of high­ers re­sults, given that so many uni­ver­si­ties now are ac­cept­ing stu­dents with GCSEs?

There is now a dan­ger of a to­tal mud­dle in our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. Schools and their pupils need a clear and uni­ver­sally ac­cepted mark of out­stand­ing aca­demic at­tain­ment for pupils as a recog­ni­tion of top-class work. It is this clear struc­ture that pro­vides in­cen­tives for schools and real mo­ti­va­tion for pupils. The is­sue has been high­lighted by the de­ci­sion of Ge­orge he­riot’s, Scot­land’s top-per­form­ing school, to stop of­fer­ing pupils what is sup­posed to be the Scot­tish Govern­ment’s top qual­i­fi­ca­tion. It says the award is not recog­nised by uni­ver­si­ties.

That is a dis­ap­point­ment for pupils and par­ents, and a con­sid­er­able ef­fort by staff gone to waste. Ur­gent clar­i­fi­ca­tion is now surely due from the Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary.

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