Parent slams school ‘inequality’

A parent has launched a scathing attack on the council for “inequalities” in the models of the Curriculum for Excellence in Borders high schools.

Chris Mowat, from Kelso, said his son is facing less choices at Kelso High School than equivalent S4 pupils at Earlston.

Mr Mowat told The Southern: “I feel it is very unequal to have different choices and opportunities afforded to children depending on what catchment area they live in.

“There has been no move to make it an equal playing field in all the secondary schools in the Borders, and it simply isn’t fair.”

Mr Mowat said in Kelso a 3+3 model has been implemented, meaning pupils study a large number of subjects across a broad area for three years, before selecting six subjects to study for a National 4/5 in S4 and then up to six subjects in S5 and S6.

However, he said that Earlston are using a 2+2+2 model, with pupils getting a broad general education for two years, then selecting eight subjects at S3 to study for two years for their National 4/5s, before again selecting up to six subjects in S5 and S6.

Mr Mowat, a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, said this afforded pupils a greater choice of Higher subjects to study in their last two years of school, crucial in gaining entry to university.

He added that he believed that “parent pressure” had prompted the school to run this model.

Mr Mowat said parents who were aware of the different models in use were worried about it, as well as a number of teachers.

He added that the council had “fobbed off” parents by saying that all schools would be brought into line with the 3+3, six-subject model, when this had “clearly not happened”.

Mr Mowat was keen to point out that he did not believe that Earlston or any other local school using the 2+2+2 model with eight subjects at S3/4 should be forced to change, rather that it was the preferred model and the other schools should move to that system.

He added that the 3+3 model led to a “rapid narrowing down of choices” for pupils.

Mr Mowat said: “While I, and many other parents that I have spoken to, believe that the senior phase model adopted by most SBC high schools is far from ideal, it is crucial that pupils are not disadvantaged by inconsistencies of delivery through our region that are not being addressed quickly enough.”

In response to the issues which Mr Mowat has raised, and which he himself failed to get a response from SBC on, a council spokesperson said: “All nine schools are working towards six choices, but we have allowed flexibility due to differing circumstances in each of the schools in terms of the timescale.

“We still have one school working towards six choices, but all others have made the transition.”