New Highers a postcode lottery for local pupils

More than 40 'old' Higher courses will be run in Borders classrooms in the next school year
More than 40 'old' Higher courses will be run in Borders classrooms in the next school year

More than 40 ‘old’ Higher courses will run in high schools in the new school year after delays to the introduction of the new curriculum.

Sixteen courses are affected, including biology, physics and French. Six of the nine high schools in the area will run the old-style geography Higher course.

Just three subjects – English, maths and music – will operate at the same level across the nine schools, with all running the new courses.

John Lamont MSP said: “The whole process of introducing the new Higher exams has proven chaotic enough already.

“It’s important they are brought in as quickly as possible as they will provide a smoother transition from National 5s and also mean fewer pupils are at risk of missing out on the subjects they want.”

He added: “The delay in reforms will cause considerable stress for pupils, parents and teachers, so the SNP must act immediately to address this.”

An SBC spokesman said: “The majority of students will study the new Higher from August 2014, with students in all subjects making this move in session 2015-16.

“Both versions of the Higher qualification have the same status and currency with employers and universities, and no student will be disadvantaged through following either route.”

He added: “All decisions have been made based on the best possible learning experience for young people and the best chance of high achievement in their exams.”

Chris Mowat, Kelso High School parent council chairman, said: “If my child had to deal with the difficulties experienced last year with National 5 introduction and was then denied the opportunity to follow this with a Higher course tailored towards the National 5 then I would say they had been let down by the system.”

He added: “The introduction of the new Highers has been woefully underfunded. The amount of money SBC received from the Scottish Government to distribute among the schools to aid with it is pitiful compared to the costs of teaching materials needed.

“It has also been rushed, just like National 5 introduction was.”