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Moving Bathgate Academy Into the Senior Phase of Curriculum for Excellence

Parent Consultation Document May 2013


Contents Page

Who is this document for How do parents/carers feed back their opinions? What is the Senior Phase? What is the purpose of a new Senior Phase? What do we want to achieve in the long run? The right curricular model for Bathgate Academy How would a six subject S4 affect individual student’s Senior Phase Decisions still to be made What happens next?



ho is this document for?

This booklet is for our parents/carers who are interested in finding out more about the decisions the school is making regarding our Senior Phase curriculum and for parents/carers who may be interested in helping to inform those decisions. Although some aspects of this document relate specifically to parents of pupils moving into S3 in June 2013 parents with pupils in younger years will also find this of interest.


ow do parents/carers feedback their opinions?

We would welcome parental feedback on this document. Parents/carers can use the reply slip at the end of this document or email the school with your views. Details on how to do this is given later. An information evening will also take place on Monday 10th June at 6.30pm in the Assembly Hall. 2


hat is the Senior Phase?

‘‘The senior phase of a child’s education is one of the most important, and potentially one of the most challenging. Schools are tasked with creating a curriculum that not only provides a meaningful learning experience which supports pupils in obtaining qualifications, but also enables them to develop emotionally, physically and socially as young adults. In short, the senior phase prepares pupils to make their own way in the world.” (Education Scotland 2012) The Senior Phase is the phase of education... constructed to encourage students to stay on in education or training until the end of S6. which will include students from S4 to S6. where students work towards formal SQA Qualifications. where students can specialise within a curriculum area such as Technologies, Expressive Arts, Science, Languages and so on. These National Qualification courses will start at Bathgate Academy, one year behind the national picture, in June 2014 and our SQA certificated courses open to students in session 2014-2015 will be as follows; National Qualification


Entry Requirements

National 3

Broadly equivalent to Access 3, these courses have no end of year examination and student achievement is judged through on-going in-school assessment

‘Developing’ or ‘Consolidating’ at CfE level 3

National 4

Broadly equivalent to Standard Grade General level or Intermediate 1, these courses have no end of year examination and student achievement is judged through on-going in-school assessment

‘Secure’ at CfE level 3 or ‘Developing’ at CfE level 4

National 5

Broadly equivalent to Standard Grade Credit level or Intermediate 2. There is an end of course examination at this level.

CfE level 4 ‘Consolidating’ or ‘Secure’


These qualifications basically remain the same, although they will be adjusted to articulate more fully with progression from National 5 courses.

A - C pass at National 5

Advanced Higher

Again, these courses remain the same although adjustments will be made in future.

A or B pass at Higher


In addition to these courses the Academy is continuing to develop other courses to meet the varying demands of our pupils. These will include Skills for Work courses, National Progression Awards, Personal Development Awards, Voluntary awards, school certificates etc.


hat is the purpose of Senior Phase?

Some of the guiding principles that has informed our decision making apply to all schools in Scotland. A summary of those guiding principles are; One of the key aims of Curriculum for Excellence is to reduce the quantity of assessment which pupils undertake Qualifications should be taken at the appropriate stage for the individual young person over the three years of the Senior Phase. The majority of pupils now stay on to at least S5 so it is no longer appropriate to view S4 in isolation or to see presentation in S4 as a ‘given’ for each learner in each subject. It is important to ensure that young people who leave at the end of S4 or Christmas of S5 are appropriately catered for in terms of qualifications Prepare students for positive destinations and the world of work Schools have been asked to produce bespoke senior phase models that are designed to meet the needs of their young people. Emphasis needs to be on ensuring end point qualifications gained lead to positive and sustained future destinations, whether that be employment, college or Higher Education


hat do we want to achieve in the long run?

The qualifications that students sit in S4 are designed as one year courses. Each National 4 or National 5 course has 120 notional study hours attached to it, with an additional 40 hours assigned for exam preparation, assessment etc. Although some schools are offering 8 or maybe 9 courses in one year this means these courses are starting in S3 which we believe does not reflect the principles of Curriculum for Excellence or ensure our pupils experience a breadth of content, knowledge and skills required before specialisation into examination. However, it will be possible for students to bank the added value unit in some of their subjects in S3 meaning that if pupils choose a National 5 course in S4 and struggle they will be able to receive a National 4 qualification. Ultimately we want to develop a focus on end point qualifications rather than step by step qualifications that often means over assessment, little progression and a random assortment of qualifications rather than a suite of qualifications planned to ensure a future positive destination.



he right curricular model for Bathgate Academy

There has been much debate across Scotland about the right ‘curricular model’ that schools should adopt. We have been charged with developing the model that we think best meets the needs of young people at Bathgate Academy. It is our firm conviction that our S1-S3 Broad General Education followed by the continuation of our existing integrated three year Senior Phase best allows Bathgate Academy to meet the requirements of Curriculum for Excellence and the needs of our students. This model has been described as “3+3” in the national press. This means our Senior Phase classes will continue to comprise S4, 5 and 6 pupils sitting National 4s, 5s, Highers or Advanced Highers. Again, by building on current practice our Senior Phase model allows the greater possibility of two year courses of study as well as the more traditional one year course followed by an exam. Additional flexibility might therefore involve a student sitting a Higher course over S4 and S5 by perhaps bypassing the National 5 examination in S4, or it might equally involve an S5 student sitting National 5 qualification over two years with an end of course examination in S6. In essence we wish to retain the flexibility in our S4 –S6 Senior Phase to ensure that every student is sitting the right courses and being assessed at the right time.

To allow the greatest flexibility possible and to ensure students receive the correct allocation of time for their courses our Senior Phase model will mean students choose six subjects to study each year of the Senior Phase.

By the end of a student’s learning journey they will leave Bathgate Academy with approximately the same SQA qualifications as pupils from previous years. However flexibility discussed earlier means; For example S3 students going into S4 in session 2014-2015 will choose 6 National Qualifications potentially over 1 year as opposed to 8 Standard Grades over 2 years. S4 students going into S5 in session 2015-2016 will choose a combination of 6 National Qualifications such as Highers, National 5 or National 4 courses as opposed to a maximum of 5 in previous years. S5 students going into S6 in session 2016-2017 will choose a combination of up to 6 National Qualifications such as Advanced Highers, Highers, National 5 and/or National 4 courses as opposed to a maximum of 5 in previous years.



easons for moving to a six column structure

If students undertake 6 qualifications they will have over 4 hours per subject per week. This would allow for richer learning, more practical experiences and a greater consolidation of course content than what was presently offered to Standard Grade classes.

A key aim of Curriculum for Excellence is to raise attainment for all pupils. A 6 column structure gives the best possible opportunity for this due to the increase in time available for National courses.

For students leaving at the end of S4 we could adjust their work programme to build in additional work experience placements etc as National 4 added value units would have been completed in S3. This flexibility is a strength of the current S4 provision which we are able to retain under this new structure.

All pupils of varying abilities can be easily catered for with additional flexibility including work placements, skills for work courses, National courses available in every year of the Senior Phase which would not be possible if courses were started in S3 and all having to last 2 years.

It is nationally unusual for schools across Scotland who are described as 3+3 to be offering more than 6 qualifications in S4.

To dismantle the existing integrated senior school (S4-S6) model will mean less courses and levels will be available as staffing levels could not accommodate the number of additional classes required

Teacher consultation indicated near unanimous understanding and support for 6 qualifications in senior school.

This integrated structure underpins the philosophy and importance of ‘end point’ qualifications rather than step by step over assessment.

Universities have adapted their admission criteria to reflect the flexible progression routes now open to school students across the country. This allows schools to adapt their curriculum structures accordingly.

6 column structure underpins an exam structure built on the needs of each individual student rather than viewing mass cohort presentation as the norm.



ow would a six subject S4 affect individual student’s Senior Phase?

The continuation of a fully integrated S4 –S6 Senior Phase will provide a much wider diversity of one and two year courses for all students. It is very challenging to visualise the wide variety of pathways that students might take but the examples below hopefully give a flavour of some of the possibilities. In S4 John sat four National 5 subjects and two National 4 subjects In S5 John than sat three more National 5 subjects and a National 4. In addition John started year1of two Highers. In S6 John completed year 2 of his two Highers and sat two further National 4 qualifications. Total Senior Phase credit for John: two Highers, seven National 5s and 5 National 4s Jane planned to leave school at the end of S4 and passed six National 4 qualifications which were all internally assessed. However, at the end of S4, she decided to stay on at school and went on to sit three national 5 subjects and a further three National 4 subjects, before leaving at the end of S5. Total Senior Phase credit for Jane: Three National 5s and nine National 4s In S4 Jenny started the first year of six two year Higher courses. Jenny’s very ambitious plans in S4 changed slightly in S5. She completed year 2 of five of her six Highers, but was presented for National 5 in one of her subjects. In S6 Jenny completed a Higher in that remaining subject and sat Advanced Highers in 2 other subjects. Total Senior Phase credit for Jenny: 6 Highers, 1 National 5, 2 Advanced Highers In S4 Jack sat 6 National 5 courses In S5 Jack sat 5 Higher courses and chose a ‘skills for work’ vocational course in addition to some additional planned study time to ensure his heavy workload could be managed. In S6 Jack sat an additional Higher and one Advanced Higher. He then arranged specific work experience opportunities to gain an insight into a future career path and to develop his University application form. Total Senior Phase credit for Jack: 6 National 5s, 6 Highers, 1 Advanced Higher All pupil pathways will be discussed in advance of final agreement during Course Choice time. This will ensure that proposed pathways are acceptable to Further Education Colleges, Universities etc ensuring pupils will not experience any educational disadvantage when looking to progress from school. 7


ecisions still to be made

By continuing with an integrated senior school model there are a number of decisions we still need to make. One of the most important decisions is how we ensure our senior pupils continue to receive other subject areas outwith their SQA courses, in particular, Physical Education, Religious Education and PSE (Personal & Social Education). This is currently an on-going issue with our present S4 –S6 timetable and with only 2 periods per week remaining after students choose 6 subjects will continue to be problematic in the new structure. One option being seriously considered is whether we need to continue with a daily 10 minute registration in the morning. All class teachers now electronically take a register every period and pupils can be informed about specific information through class time, use of school website etc. By taking the combined time of 50 minutes of registration during the school week we could add an extra period to, for example Friday, which would allow every senior pupil’s entitlement to subject content to then be met. The implication of this would be a change to the school day with period 1 commencing at 8.30am with an earlier finish Monday –Thursday (possibly 3.20pm) but a later finish on Friday (possibly 1.05pm). It will also mean an additional period will be added to a curricular area in our S1 –S3 curriculum. By making no change means our senior pupils will be unable to receive a full complement of other non certificated subjects as desired by Scottish Government. This will have implications down the line. Staff consultation on this matter, again indicated the vast majority would be happy to see this timetable change being made.


hat happens next?

This document hopefully gives you a clearer understanding of how your child’s curriculum will be organised when they move into their Senior Phase in June 2014. To follow up this paper there will be an evening presentation on Monday 10th June at 6.30pm to discuss this further. If you have any questions that you wish to be answered during this presentation please complete the sheet overleaf or e-mail the Head teacher using the email facility on the school website; then click on ‘Head teacher welcome.’ Please remember the Head teacher surgery takes place every Thursday between 5pm-6pm if you would like to discuss any implications of this paper individually. As you would expect more information will also be published during your child’s S3 year with course choice booklets, pupil and parental interviews all scheduled to take place at the appropriate times. If the school wishes to ultimately make changes to the school day/other pupil entitlements this will be proposed to all parents for your feedback in due course. The school day will not change during session 2013-2014.


Parental feedback form: Senior Phase Please complete the section below and return to Head teacher before 31st May Name: Pupil name: Year Group:



Senior Phase Parent Consultation Document  
Senior Phase Parent Consultation Document