> Mrs. O'Neill's Blog: Do you think the Scottish school year works?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Do you think the Scottish school year works?

I started my new timetable at the beginning of this week. I was especially keen to meet my new seniors. Two of my classes are mixed S5 and S6 pupils. Since study leave was over for the new S5, they arrived at the start of the week. Our new S6 had study leave until Thursday so half of my class didn’t come back until then. A number of them also informed me that they would be missing a couple of days between now and the end of next week, since exams aren’t actually over…

Our department has strategies in place to deal with this. We work on the units that involve the most independent work, personal writing pieces and so on. That way students will not be impacted too badly by the changing class population. We are also trying to cover the same ground as a department, over the six weeks.

Staff have mixed feelings about this. It doesn’t feel right to be starting a new class in this staggered way. You try to set the regulars off on their work and then re-do your presentation to the newbies. You make up worksheets that read like the intro to 24. Jack has been busy...

The pupils themselves usually respond with good nature. Of course they’re tired after exams and they’ve never been in a class with people from outside their year group. They sit in year group clusters. However I’m confident we will begin to gel in a week or two. And four weeks on we’ll be that strange animal - a class.

Then we will go off for six weeks. We will come back with our exam results and the class shuffling will start again.

Old timers sigh and say this is just how it is. They point to the benefits of having classes (generally) worked out before end of term. It makes the start of the new session easier. You can also set summer reading projects. You get creative.

I don’t think it works. I think the aforementioned benefits could be gained by having classes on new timetable for the last week of school.

And I think we could change to that quite easily by doing one thing: have the exams closer to the end of our school year.

Why wouldn’t this work?


Wendy said...

An extremely sensible suggestion. So sensible, in fact, I don't understand why the school year is the way it is. Are we missing some terribly important factor? I don't think so.

The puppy on my blog is a working cocker spaniel, btw. :)

David said...

Here in Moray we have the same problems. I note that St Modans in Stirling and other schools there don't changeover until 11 June! How much better for all concerned.

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

That sounds much more do-able...

guineapigmum said...

At the school my 2 go to, they're changing over on the 18th June I think. Great for the 1st & 2nd years but it seem to have left the 3rd years (who have just done Standard Grades) a bit in limbo. Or perhaps just sitting back for a bit after the exams. They seem to have started next year's courses in some subjects but I don't know what's happening with subjects they're giving up. School trip to France goes off on the 16th so loads will be missing for the 1st official week of the new timetable. I've no idea what 4th/5th/6th are doing. And I have no memory of what we did in that last month at school!

Have you sold your house yet?

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

gpm -Yes, I think S4 -and in your boys' school- S3 do find this difficult. That's why I would make the exams later.

I seem to remember playing cards... but only in the last week. The exams didn't seem so early.

re. the house - we accepted a verbal offer today!

Chris said...

I always hated this time of year. I was tired and wanted my hols - or was in the throes of preparing to take the French Exchange away (don't ask) - and I never felt it gave the class a decent start. Sure, the last week of term was taken up with activities, but June felt like a nightmare.

When I was a pupil of Hillhead High School, we had whole days out at Hughenden for sporty things (not really me, but better than working indoors), a Garden Fete that the entire school prepared for, umpteen orchestra practices and a Sixth Year show. And one year I sat in the few classes that actually met and read the entire oeuvre of Ian Fleming - we all swapped them with each other. And there were the romances which flourished in this time - and the Sixth year went on an unsupervised day-trip to Arran in my year!

So no, I don't think the current arrangement is any fun at all - oops: that's not quite what you asked ....

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

But that is precisely what I wanted to hear about Chris! It seemed to me that the final week or two of school was a lot more fun. Glad to hear I am not the only one!

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