Bobby linked to this BBC story which reports that East Renfrewshire Council will have a council-wide strategy of secondary school pupils starting their work towards SQA Intermediate exams early, to take their first exams at age 14.
I see the rationale behind this, that the S2 year (recognised as often undemanding and de-motivating) could have better use made of it, and that students would get longer working towards their Highers exams.
There are a few concerns:
1. That might suit bright and able teenagers, but what about the less-able young people who never reach the stage of taking Highers? Does this system write them off, or divert them into vocational classes?
2. This also implies that kids would have to choose which subjects to continue, and which to drop, at an even earlier stage - probably aged 13. Hard to make those kind of decisions so young.
3. Hard also for the teaching departments at school; they would have to persuade kids within just one year in S1 that their subjects were the ones to choose, or lose them to the subject for ever. Would the best teachers be put into S1 classes, to try to ensure that numbers were sustained for exam classes? Will exam grades then suffer, if the best teachers are in other classes?