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?
Posted by Liz O'Neill at 9:37 am