What’s your experience of new Highers and Nationals?

Are you the parent or carer of a child in S4, S5 or S6?

If so, we’d like to invite you to attend a focus group taking place in Glasgow on 26th May. The purpose is to hear about the experiences of you and of your child this school session 2014/15. We are very interested in discussing how you have found the first year of the new Higher Qualification, the second year of National Qualifications 4 and 5 and how you feel some of the more practical changes were managed. As a parent we value your reflections of how you feel that this school year has gone and ways that could help improve the experience for the next year’s pupils. NPFS will in turn feedback this parental perspective, at a national level, to the CfE Management Board, members of which include Scottish Government, Education Scotland and the SQA.

Details of the event are:

Date:       Tuesday 26 May from 6.30 pm for a 7pm start until 8.30pm

Address: Room A426 in the Govan Mbeki Building,  Glasgow Caledonian University

Map

Please RSVP to glasgow@npfs.org.uk or call 0131 313 8841 for more information

77 comments

  1. m Ruth rumsey

    I am so disappointed that my son in S4 has decided to leave school when his 2 elder sisters lived school & stayed on til 6th year. I feel is decision reflects in part the pressure which has been on him & his teachers. He certainly feels his teachers were under pressure. As he has only achieved NAT 4‘s in most subjects he has not sat any formal exams. I think this will disadvantage him in the future. People need to be familiar with a formal exam…..the procedures, the quietness, the timescales, & presentation of their work. Exams teach as well as test! As my son has not sat his exams school has not required him to attend since Easter. The S4 timetable was suspended for study leave…..this time could have been better spent….a whole term lost!

    • Hi Ruth, many thanks for sharing your views. Would you be interested in coming along to our focus group for parents on Tuesday evening? If you’d like to attend, please RSVP to our Glasgow representative, Joanna Murphy glasgow@npfs.org.uk. Regards, Barbara (NPFS Policy Manager)

  2. ellen shearer

    My daughter’ s experience of the New Higher Maths exam was terrible. She had been doing well and passed her prelim exam. She had a tutor for 2 years. Both her class teacher and tutor said she should be in the grade B bracket. She had been doing the sample papers and could do them and had revised for months. She was devastated as some questions couldn’t even be started. She needed a grade B to do what she wanted at uni.
    Lots of other kids and teachers feel the same way about the exam. I want action taken. My daughter doesn’t want to sit her next exam now and we have lost faith in the SQA. I am going to make a formal complaint and maybe even go to the papers. I know loads of others parents feel the same way. So angry that my child feels this way afyer so much hard work. Disgraceful!!

  3. ellen shearer

    My daughter did the new Higher Maths exam yesterday. She was doing well at school and she passed her prelim exam. She was told that she was capable of a Grade B with the standard she was at. She had done lots of practice and also thr sample papers which were nothing like the exam. She couldn’t even start some of the questions. She needed a grade B to get into the uni course she always wanted. She is so depressed and doesn’t even want to go into the next exam.
    Something has gone wtong when a kid who has worked so hard and was doing well can’t do much of the exam. The psychological effect has been awful. It may well affect her next exam.
    We are not alone. Lots of other students and teachers feel the same way. The teachers had to console the pupils at the end of the exam and even apologised for it. I am angry beyond words.
    There are online petitions and prople are going to the newspapers.
    We have lost all faith in thr SQA and want something done. I hope other parents voice their concerns too.
    Hopefully you can help.
    Mrs Ellen Shearer

  4. Joy Paul

    Unfortunately I am unable to attend Tuesday’s forum due to work commitments but would be grateful if my comments could be relayed on. My daughter has just sat the new higher mathematics exam and I am outraged at the level expected of these pupils. The exam was a disgrace. After months of hard work and preparation, the vast majority of pupils stood little or no chance of gaining enough marks to pass, let alone secure an A grade. This paper bore no resemblance to either the specimen or exemplar paper and should have been reserved for an “Oxbridge” entrance exam. Somebody should be held accountable for this travesty and these kids should be given a fair chance to sit a fair exam.
    At a personal level I have spent hundreds of pounds on a tutor to supplement the excellent teaching in school as maths has always been a weak subject. This one to one intensive teaching had got her to a level where both teacher and tutor thought she had a chance of an “A.” However, thanks to the SQA , both teachers and pupil have been left feeling let down and demoralised and what a waste of money as I am sure this is now completely unattainable.
    Joy M Paul

    • Thanks to everyone for sharing their views on the new Higher Maths exam. We are sorry to hear about the candidates’ experiences, and will pass on your comments. We will add them to our evidence base of parents’ and pupils’ experiences of the new exams. A report will be published in due course – keep an eye on the website for further details. Regards, Barbara (NPFS Policy Manager)

  5. ellen shearer

    Hi again,
    I sent an email to you recently about the Higher Maths exam. My name is Ellen. I can’t attend the meeting tomorrow evening as I am working and my husband is on nightshift. I would like you to consider the following points and use them to the best of your ability. I will also be emailing my local MPs.
    The comments from the SQA don’t really adderss the main issues or problems. It is a politically correct response. I have also emailed the SQA who haven’t replied to the following points I am about to raise.
    Firstly, the psychological effect the exam has had on students. My daughter has found studing for her next exam difficult. Her confidence in the exams has been damaged and she is even more frightened to go into the next one. She feels that no matter how much she studies it may not do any good anyway. She has lost motivation and I am sure this has affected her next exam. The SQA have not addressed this aspect at all with their answer. This cannot be fixed no matter how they rejig the pass mark or grades. Getting into uni involves all the Highers.
    Next, recalculting the grades in this case is very inaccurate and may well still not be a reflection of a childs ability. The paper was so complex and wordy that some kids couldn’t even start the questions. This was not due to lack of ability but of a poorly written paper. I have heard that some kids were in tears and this I am sure would have impacted on even the parts of the paper kids could do. For kids to be upset in the exam and highly anxious makes what they did do a very inaccurate reflection if ability. Some kids would have been affected by this more than others as everyone handles steess differently so some hard working students would have been disadvantaged.
    Recalculting the grades and pass marks this year so not the same as doing it in other years the way the SQA said they would.
    Lastly, the New Higher has no appeal, which in this case is ridiculous for all the above mentioned points. It is even more important that the Maths higher is a very well written and FAIR exam as there is no coursework element as is the case in many other subjects. I definitely think there should be an appeal system in this case. This in itself wouldn’t help some pupils who failed their prelim but worked very hard up until the exam and made much progress just for it to count for nothing due to a poorly written and unfair paper. This I am very annoyed about. It may however help some.
    The damage this exam has done has been underestimated by the SQA and I want them to acknowledge the points I have raised. I will be writing to my local MPs and I am awaiting the SQAs response. Their explanation does nothing to calm my fears.

  6. Douglas McNeill

    I can’t attend the meeting tomorrow but would be grateful if you could relay my comments. My son sat the new cfe Higher Maths exam and came out hugely frustrated that the style of questions were not representative of the taught material and specimen paper. He had believed he was on track for an A pass, and this is now an impossibility, with all the attendant implications for university applications. It seems that the Sqa do not recognise any issue from the statement they made. If we accept their points, it seems large numbers of maths teachers across many schools did not adequately prepare pupils for the intended style of paper. I find this unlikely, and I think it is important that the Cfe Management Committee take steps to ensure this vanguard group of pupils are not unfairly disadvantaged by the Sqa actions.

  7. Tracey Dunn

    I can not attend the forum due to work and family commitments, however I would my concerns regarding the higher maths exam passed on. My husband and myself are both outraged at the level this exam was set at. My son sat the exam and was told he would be capable at getting a B which he needs to get in to university. He came out of the exam unable to finish the second paper, he felt the questions were nothing like what they had been taught at school or in the pass papers from previous years. He spent hours and hours studying for this went to extra classes at lunch times and now he feels like it all has been a complete waste of time and that he has failed the exam. I’m at really disgusted at SQA for this, I can’t understand why they have changed the exam this year, the kids have worked so hard to get the marks they need to secure their futures. I really hope SQA take our concerns in to consideration when marking this paper.

  8. Elaine Fell

    I am so annoyed and upset about the Higher Maths exam. As a secondary teacher I always enforce the view that an exam is an opportunity to display a pupils skills and knowledge. This exam deprived of such an opportunity. I am also very annoyed at the impact on later exams still to be sat. Lastly no amount of SQA flannel about moving the pass mark will help kids who failed to attempt questions or felt it necessary to leave early. Where was the quality assurance on this awful paper?

  9. Mia Gilfillan

    i sat the new higher maths exam last Wednesday and am absolutely gutted about my performance. I am also however so angry as I put in an immense amount of revision and preparation for this exam which didn’t pay off at all. As well as past papers, I also done the specimen paper which far from reflected the exam itself. Personally I need these results to get into university in the future and I know I am not alone. I strongly believe that the pass mark should be lowered and NABS should definitely be taken into account. The exam itself is not a true reflection of the ability of myself and thousands of others and I feel disheartened about my performance and the dreaded result

  10. Brian Cargill

    Our son sat the Higher Maths last week and was traumatised by the exam. He needed a good mark to set himself up for University next year and we have been employing a Maths tutor over and above his school studies. He was working towards a B and both our son and the tutor were quietly confident of this prior to the exam.
    He says there were questions he could not start and some that he ended up making up numbers to try to attempt and work his way through the question.
    He stayed for the duration of the exam trying and trying to understand or to work out what was required from the questions. His first impression after the exam was that if he failed the exam he could not face sitting the exam again next year. I am hoping he has done enough and if not that this feeling will subside but it gives you an indication as to how this exam has affected him.
    Our son has been conscientious with his studies throughout the year and also during the lead up to the exams. We are totally gutted for him and are very angry that this shambolic Higher Maths exam could adversely effect his future career.
    Brian Cargill

  11. Norie Wilson

    Can i just add my agreement in the previous comments made on the Higher Maths exam. My daughter sat it and was totally deflated and sapped of confidence after it. I am unfortunately unable to attend the meeting but look forward to feedback.

  12. Angela ransay

    The new CFE has been an utter disgrace. How are they supposed to revise with only 2 official practice papers – which turn out to be nothing like the exam?!?! Teachers having no confidence in the new system has a knock on effect on the pupils – I think it’s all a shambles, and fair enough they will improve it for the future, but right now it is our children who are going to suffer the consequences.

  13. Roberta Cunningham

    My daughter is in s5 and has also recently sat her higher maths after a year of tutoring she went into the exam with confidence which she had previously lacked when it came to maths. When coming out of the exam her confidence was shot and lower than ever. As she has not completed her exams she has expressed concerns as to how she will ‘tackle’ the up and coming exams and has already started to rethink her career choice.

  14. M Wallace

    Unfortunately I can’t attend the meeting but am pleased to see something being done to put forward parents views. My daughters school was one of the few that decided not to sit any national exams (if staying on) which in itself was stressful as the kids have nothing to fall back on if their highers don’t go well. The kids who were border line higher maths felt they had no choice but to revert to national 5 as if the higher was failed they had no qualification. If the national 5 exam was sat in 4th year like the majority of Scotland then they would have no choice but at least try for the higher. This, of course, applies to all
    Subjects. The teachers were very stressed throughout the transition and were in effect teaching two different curriculums. This stress was definitely relayed to the students. I sincerely hope the SQA take on board that our children are their guinea pigs and are lenient in their marking.

  15. Amirah Mian

    Thoroughly disappointed with the higher maths exam . My son had prepared to a level of where even his teacher said he could do no more , was achieving excellent scores in past papers and now we are concerned he may not get the A he needs for his university course . The pressure and stress this one exam has caused has been too much .i wish I could express my concern and anxiety in person but am unable to attend the meeting and would be most grateful if my views are passed on

  16. Linda Pollock

    My son has always done well in his maths exams and class tests and achieved an ‘A’ for his National 5. He was hoping to get an ‘A’ for higher too or at least a ‘B’. He studied hard and did lots of the specimen papers. He phoned me at work as soon as he came out of the Higher exam and he was extremely distressed. The situation has been made worse by people making ridiculous comments on Facebook etc about how kids in some other countries would have breezed it. The argument is not about the level of difficulty, but the fact that the exam bore no relation to what the kids had been taught or the specimen papers. I have seen several comments saying that the SQA will probably say that the paper was fine and will close ranks. I hope this is not true as the young people involved deserve better and it will do nothing for the reputation of the SQA if they don’t hold their hands up and admit they got it wrong. My son is due to sit his chemistry exam later this week and is already in a panic as he has lost confidence in the exam system.

  17. Sophie

    I sat the new CfE higher Maths exam.
    i found many of the questions were not adequately explained, and in many cases, were not in the format that we were set up to expect (from specimen and exemplar papers).
    It simply wasn’t clear enough what equations we had to use as the word choice and layout of the questions were irrelevant to the information we had been asked to find.
    i hope this helps someone in the future.
    if I have failed this exam I have made the decision NOT to resit next year because of the stress that was put on me – it simply ISN’T worth it.

  18. Rowan

    I, like many other people, sat the CFE maths exam last Wednesday. I feel that none of the past papers or model papers provided resembled the exam. Next to no one in the 30 or so people that sat the exam in my school felt confident or happy after that exam, many people, myself included, instead felt disheartened and upset. Lots of people need this exam to get into uni, and I don’t feel that I will be able to achieve the grade I need because of this exam. Hopefully something can be done about this terrible exam.
    Rowan

  19. Christine Otigbah

    Unfortunately I am unable to attend the forum on Tuesday. I would like to make my views known on the new maths higher. My daughter sat the new maths higher on Wednesday 20th May and was very upset and frustrated with this paper. She has worked tirelessly this last year to get a good grade for maths as she needs a B to get into the university course she wants to do. She found some of the questions in this paper almost impossible to understand. She felt it bore little resemblance to any of the past papers she has been studying and believe me she has studied all the past papers. She said there were a few questions that she couldn’t even attempt. When I spoke to her maths teacher at parents evening he told me she was on course for a really good grade in the higher. On her prelim she got 79% and passed all her nabs easily. She feels that all the hard work on her maths has been in vain as she believes that she won’t get a decent grade. This seems so unfair on kids who have worked so hard to achieve a good grade. The SQA should take steps to ensure pupils hard work throughout the year is taken into consideration as this maths paper was just too difficult. Everywher I go people are talking about it so I know it’s not just a few kids complaining. So come on SQA listen to the complaints but more importantly do something about it!!

  20. d stewart

    I dont know whether it is the pressure of the new exam system (speaking specifically about maths here) or whether it was just poor teaching but my son S6, took himself out of his maths class 2 months ago due to feeling he was learning nothing from his teacher. At that point he had failed 2 nabs. Since teaching himself he has passed all 3 nabs without issue. We were hopeful for his exam given his increasing success but he came out most disheartened. As selfish as it sounds, we were relieved to hear the maths has been a problem right across the country and therefore the problem has to be addressed. In other subjects the transfer to the new system doesnt seem to have been a problem but only time will tell in his grades. I am unable to attend the meeting tomorrow as we live in s.w scotland.

  21. Jacqueline McGuiness

    My son sat the old higher maths exam and as many have commented he felt the exam bore no resemblance to either the specimen or exemplar papers he sat throughout the year. We also paid for a Maths tutor who has seen the paper and has commented that it was totally unfair. My son worked hard and believes all his work, passing the prelim, has been a waste of time.
    SQA have to decide to maybe take prelim results into account or they have destroyed many young people’s dreams of progressing in whatever pathway they have planned.
    Many people are commenting that the exam was too difficult, questions not relevant and that is what has caused many young people to challenge SQA on this paper. It is pointless saying they could have progressed to next question as their confidence would have gone and their minds will have gone blank.
    SQA need to sort this or be ready for possible legal challenges as well as challenges to the role of senior staff who ultimately must be held accountable for the mess they have created.
    Unfortunately not able to attend any meeting on this but hope people will get across how angry our young people are over the maths exam. Thanks

  22. John Daly

    My parents are unable to attend the meeting; however I would like to voice my view on the new higher maths paper. The paper was unnecessarily ‘wordy’ to such an extent that it was not students mathematical ability that was being tested but instead their ability to read into abnormally worded questions. The crocodile question part a was ambiguous. Students were unable to tell if the crocodile was to swim the shortest distance between it an the zebra or simply swim the shortest distance across the river. What was even worse was that the answer to part b relied on these poorly worded questions from part a. In paper one there was a circle question which asked students to find the value of ‘k’ after explaining how the circle cuts the coordinate axes at 3 points. This question will have went fine for the majority of candidates; however after further analysis from math teachers there is a clear mathematical error in the question. The circle can be expanded to cut the axes at the origin as well as one point on the x axis and one on the y. This affects the value of ‘k’ and due to the adaption of the question in the old higher paper one it is clear that the sqa have not noticed this is a potential answer due to this specific value of ‘k’ not being noted as a multiple choice answer. This can be seen here: http://youtu.be/oDkXzVXkRlU . The sqa will no doubt reduce the pass mark to ensure that equal numbers of people are passing; however this is not enough. When under exam conditions and faced with multiple questions that they are unable to do students panic. This does not only affect their ability to logically think for the remainder of the questions but also leaves them traumatised for the remainder of their exams. I would like to know how such a terrible exam paper reached the printing stage.

  23. Jann Hodges

    I find it totally incredulous that the SQA would, first, allow the old Higher Maths and the new Higher Maths to be taught at the same time in schools and, second, that knowing this they would produce an exam almost exclusively based on the new Higher Maths syllabus. It is a recipe designed to make students fail. It beggars belief.

  24. russell mclaughlan

    My son sat the New Higher Mathematics and had studied hard doing past papers, examplers and had the added advantage of a tutor to ensure his grade of an A/B. He was absolutely devastated at the content of this exam as it bore no relation to anything which he had been taught from his teachers or tutor, the time which was set for the exam was ridiculous as it was clear that not enough time had been allocated.
    A friend who is a maths graduate looked over the exam and found discrepancies in the questions, and stated that one question was not able to be completed ,and one other question had two possible answers. Also remarked upon the timing of the exam and the pressure of completing it under exam conditions was impossible.
    It appears that the SQA have failed our children in setting an exam of this calibre, which was certainly not a fair exam.
    I was always under the impression an exam reflected work which had been taught throughout the year, yes certainly challenging but not impossible.

  25. Wendy Anderson

    I am sorry that I can’t attend tomorrow’s netting due to short notice and work commitments so I would be grateful if you could pass on my comments
    My daughter sat Higher Maths last week and was completely demoralised and in pieces as all her hard work and efforts appear to have been for nothing.
    Who should we hold responsible? The SQA for not setting exams that mirror the curriculum that the children have been taught? Or the schools for not pressing harder to make sure they were teaching the children what they would be required to know ?
    My daughter has been one of the ” guinea pig ” students since the CfE was introduced and in order to give her a better chance of getting the results she needed in Maths we have also paid for a private tutor , who is also a higher maths teacher. Which also appears to have been a waste of time and money .
    I am only pleased at the fact that Maths was one of her last exams as I can only imagine what this would have done to her confidence in other exams should she have gone through this experience at the beginning.
    Surely the point of exams is to test pupils on what they have learned in the manner they have been taught – not deliberately try to make it more difficult to understand .

    It’s easy for the SQA to say that they will adjust results based on individual questions but this does not take in to account how the paper affected the pupils sitting the exams or the time lost trying to understand questions which were unclear.
    This is affecting our children’s futures and needs to be sorted out and confidence in the system restored as soon as possible .

  26. Christine Otigbah

    My daughter sat the new higher maths paper and found some of the questions almost impossible to answer. She felt it bore little resemblance to all the past papers she studied over the last year. She has worked extremely hard over the last year to get a decent grade as she needs a B to get into the university course she wants to do. Her maths teacher told me at parents evening that she was on course to get a good grade as she was doing really well. She got 79% in her maths prelim and passed all her nabs easily . She feels all the hard work has been in vain because she believes she will not get a good grade as she was unable to answer some of the questions. The SQA should set a fair paper, not one that most kids find impossible. Everywhere I go I hear people talking about how difficult that maths higher was. I fear a lot of hard working kids will lose out on university places because of it. I think the SQA should take into account all the results over the year and not rely on this particularly difficult paper.

  27. A Young

    My son sat the old higher maths exam (not the cfe exam) however, he did have the frog question everyone talked about. I have not seen the cfe paper. However I am assuming we are discussing all of the maths higher papers as every pupil who sat these has said the same thing:

    The paper bore no relation to past papers in level of difficulty or format. Now surely there is something significantly wrong with this test when so many young people have said they found it impossible. Both SQA and schools have to get together and fix this.

    I believe there should be a re-sit ! I think that is vitally important, because this test can not be considered proof of knowledge . The effect a test like this has can may impact on the whole paper and therefore make the results null and void. It is not good enough to have pupils working all year , give them a test which is inappropriate (as it clearly is) and then say we will lower the pass mark. I believe some pupils will have been so badly affected they may have made further mistakes or missed questions , due to the stress involved. Therefore only a re-sit would accurately test pupils knowledge and give them the chance they all deserve – i.e to pass or fail a fair test.

    I would also suggest the NABs currently sat bear no relation to the subsequent test and should be amended to give pupils a better level of practice test.

    Like a previous post I spent money on a maths tutor as this has been a subject of some difficulty at times. However my son was feeling confident in doing well, i.e A or B until he was presented with this paper.

    His year were the first to sit the National 5 last year and this year his school have gone with the old higher. However I think all of the changes have put too much pressure on schools and pupils.

    This is totally unacceptable. There must be a re – test

  28. Vicky Johnston

    Apologies but unfortunately my work commitments will prevent me attending this meeting tomorrow evening.

    My daughter sat the new Higher Maths exam paper last Wednesday. She had like so many other pupils studied extremely hard and spent months using specimen and practice papers. We had bought extra paperwork available through the internet and our local bookshop to supplement teaching and give extra practice.

    The exam by my daughter’s account and others in her year was that the paper was beyond difficult and she was left only able to answer half the questions asked. My daughter did not find other highers (taking 5 subjects) as obscure. Having seen the paper it seems totally deviate from the syllabus to the extent the questions bore no resemblance to that which they had been taught. Clearly my daughter is one of many pupils who need a first sit pass for University, this situation has left her feeling devasted.
    Something clearly has gone wrong here and this group of pupils have been treated as guinea pigs for SQA, for a second year which as a parent infuriates me! SQA have badly let these pupils down and this in turn has left them feeling in my daughter own words, “deflated, anxious and angry”.
    I would be grateful if my comments could be passed on and I’m more than happy to speak to anyone regarding this.
    Thank you for your time.
    Vicky Johnston

  29. My son sat the New Higher Mathematics and was utterly devastated at the near impossible questions in this exam.
    One question was impossible to answer and another question had the possibility of two answers.
    The exam bore no resemblance on course work ,or endorsed examples set by the SQA.
    The SQA have failed our children with this exam as it was not a ‘fair’ exam and should never have been produced as a Higher exam.
    A friend who is a Maths graduate looked over this paper and declared it very deceiving and time consuming,it should never have been set in the allocated time given as it was impossible to finish in the time and under exam conditions was not ‘fair’.
    Someone should be held accountable for this disaster which has reduced pupils and teachers to tears .
    On a personal level my son also had a tutor to achieve an A pass of which he was on target,but now it’s just a waiting game.

  30. sheila hughes

    I am sorry I will not be able to attend meeting. I am also frustrated and share the deep distress of my son. He worked extremely hard as he needs 5 A’s to get into his university course. He simply couldn’t answer some of the questions as they were so difficult and not what he expected. He has directed all his drive and ambition into studying law and is upset and depressed at having to reconsider his entire future, through no fault of his own. I am angry as this exam will have far reaching consequences. This is not what he and other hard working pupils deserve.

  31. Emer Mooney

    Hi my daughter Heather is beside herself at the moment as a result of the higher maths exam . She has a conditional offer from Aberdeen uni to study history but the condition was an A in higher maths. Unfortunately her prelim result was poor but she applied herself and studied constantly and with the help of a tutor she turned around her result to a high B worst case and an A on all the past papers . When it came to the day of the maths exam she was totally confident and was looking forward to it. The paper was in no way similar to the past papers that she had completed she answered what she could but is certain she will not achieve the mark she needs and deserves – she is now likely not going to meet the uni requirements and is left with an uncertain future – I assume SQA have plans to mark the 2015 higher maths paper fairly!! Please do not insult people with the “lessons will be learned” statement it will do nothing for my daughter!

  32. J Shiel

    Unfortunately I am unable to attend the meeting on Tuesday but would be grateful it you could ask them to explain why there was no warning that this new higher would be at degree level.
    In our case my daughter was advised to sit the Maths higher when she wasn’t going to because of her Nat 5 mark. As entry to her preferred university depends on 4 highers (Maths not being one of them) she would have picked another subject rather than waste a year of hard work and study on a subject she had no chance of passing.
    They have to be made aware that it is not a level playing field as some pupils were given the opportunity to sit the “old” higher exam but the schools who did choose the new exam would only have done so because they had faith in the system. that has now been destroyed for ever.

  33. Mark Tilley

    My daughter came home shattered by the severity of the maths exam. Having to read the question numerous times to try and understand what was required made it a comprehension test before a maths exam. Her tutor, a maths expert with in depth knowledge of the subject and syllabus, expected her to get an A or B grade, telling her she could achieve an A.
    How is this right? Either set exams suitable for the level being taught and ensure they are clear in what they are asking for or give up and get professionals to set the exam.
    Really feeling sorry for my daughter and her many distraught friends.
    Unfortunately I cannot make this meeting.

  34. Pamela Tilley

    My daughter has just sat the new higher maths paper. As previously stated it bore no resemblance to specimen papers. Students and teachers were horrified at the level the paper was set at. The questions were so wordy students were having to spend much more time reading and re-reading questions to suss out what was being asked of them. I thought it was a maths exam not an English exam!! I have not spoken to a single parent, student or teacher who has thought that the paper was fair. I have no faith in the SQA and how they intend sorting out this fiasco. Something needs done which will result in a fair outcome for all our children and an outcome where teachers, students and parents feel happy. We can’t back down or let this go until the SQA are held accountable and give a satisfactory outcome to this fiasco.

  35. Lesley Lawson

    Unfortunately due to location I am unable to attend the meeting but feel I must contact you to express my disgust at the Higher Maths exam my daughter sat last Wednesday. My daughter has worked extremely hard this year to improve her skills and has done very well in all the nabs. She has spent around 100 hours doing revision and working through specimen papers produced by the SQA at home and at extra revision sessions organised by her school. Sadly on Wednesday she discovered that the Higher Maths paper was nothing like the specimen papers or anything else she had been given as part of her revision and frankly some of the questions were well beyond the standard of a higher paper. I feel treating this years higher pupils as guinea pigs for this new system is shocking, these young people are making plans for future education and many are depending on a good mark in Maths. My daughter has also found this experience very demoralising and it has severely dented her confidence as she is now extremely worried about the rest of her higher exams. I also feel it is very unfair that all the students in Scotland did not sit the same exam as many schools chose to sit the ‘old style ‘ higher exam – how can this be fair?

  36. Pamela Tilley

    My daughter has just sat the new higher maths exam. She went in to the exam confident and well prepared and deserving of a very good grade and came out of the exam shocked! The paper bore no resemblance at all to any specimen papers. Also, the questions were so wordy that it was taking too long to read the questions to suss out exactly what was being asked. Everyone I have spoken with be it pupils, teachers or parents have all said the same. I thought it was a maths exam, not an English exam! The SQA have to be held accountable and resolve this situation to everyone’s satisfaction and restore some faith. At this moment in time I have no faith in the SQA at all. Hopefully feelings are running high enough that further steps will have to be taken by the SQA to resolve the matter. This cohort are being used as the guinea pigs and it is not fair!

  37. Linda Pollock

    My son has always done well in maths exams and class tests and achieved an ‘A’ pass for National 5. He studied hard for this higher and did the specimen papers. He hoped to get an ‘A’ or at least a ‘B’ pass. He phoned me at work as soon as he came out of the exam and was extremely distressed. The situation has not been helped by people making ridiculous comments on Facebook etc about how school pupils in some other countries would have breezed it. This is irrelevant as the argument is not about the difficulty of the exam, but the fact that it bore no resemblance to what had been taught or the SQA specimen papers. I have also seen comments that the SQA will probably not admit their mistake and will close ranks. I hope this isn’t true as their actions could have a devastating effect on many young people. They would gain respect and improve their reputation if they held their hands up and admitted they got it wrong. My son sits his chemistry exam this week and is already panicking as he has lost confidence in the system.

  38. K Walker

    I would like to have my concerns regarding the new higher maths paper also noted as I am unable to attend the meeting in Glasgow.

    My daughter deliberately chose to wait to 6th Year to sit her higher maths as it wasn’t a strong subject and she wanted to give it her full focus. The level of studying for her exam and 2 years with a weekly tutor and practise at past papers gave her a degree of confidence for sitting the exam and in all honesty I’m not sure she could have spent any more time on her studying. This was confidence was removed almost immediately on opening the paper and I received a text after paper 1 from her saying there was no point in sitting paper 2 as the first paper had been torture and she had barely been able to answer anything.

    Whilst the other highers she sat this year reflected the sample / specimen papers given by the SQA the higher maths seems to be out of kilter with this.

    My concern is that although the SQA have stated that things will be looked at in due course once the marking has been completed what happens to the children that didn’t attempt the questions because they did’t fully understand what was being asked, or when the second part of the question depended on the answer from the first part and they didn’t feel they could do this because of not being able to complete the first part.

  39. Leona gilhooley

    I have a daughter in 5th year and a son in 6th year . Like many of the comments both of them are now at a chapter in their lives where they definitely think they have failed maths. Which means they can’t do the uni courses they hoped for. My son especially as he is 6th yr. the money spent on tutors. The huge knock on their confidence. The last 3 years has been life changing to both of them. Students who were in the top of their classes now appear less than mediocre. What sort of education system have we developed?? One that will not help this generation to get into uni college etc.
    something needs done quickly for them all.

  40. Karen Drennan

    I’m afraid I’m unable to attend the meeting but I’m very interested in hearing how other people react to the Higher exams set by the SQA. My daughter’s first exam was the new Higher Biology. She came out of this in tears despite biology being a strong subject for her. She felt, along with many others, that the exam bore no resemblance to the study materials endorsed by the SQA and was made up primarily of problem-solving questions. We told her to put it behind her and concentrate on Maths. She has studied this subject for hours, attending a weekend long maths camp and going in to school at 7.45 most mornings for supported study. After the first Maths paper she was distraught and after the second inconsolable. I find it disgusting that the SQA can do this to kids – as guinea pigs for CfE, these pupils have had the pressure piled on them from all angles. My concern is that after being faced with such an impossible first paper many pupils will find it an insurmountable task to recover their confidence to even attempt the second paper. What happens then? If they do badly in the second paper because of how they felt after the first paper, then how can that be an accurate assessment of how much of the course they actually know? I have emailed my concerns to the SQA but received the generic response that the marking procedure has not been set. I am so upset for my daughter and all the kids sitting these ridiculous exams. For years she has wanted to go on to study medicine but that seems unrealistic now given the mess made of CfE. Her next exam is Chemistry and her motivation level is extremely low. She has spent hours studying this and her private tutor says she is on track for an A. This is entirely dependent on the SQA actually providing an exam paper that the kids will be familiar with. I am not optimistic.

  41. Janet Hutchison

    My daughter is currently an S5 pupil and sat 5 new higher exams this year. The courses themselves were much as she expected and were virtually just a continuation of the national qualifications which she sat last year, biology was an extremely large corse however, and there was a timing issue. The exams on the other hand were not as expected. She had purchased the SQA endorsed model paper books and was doing relitively well, only to then go into the exams and to be totally surprised by as exam format she couldn’t recognise. We feel like we have been let down by the SQA who easily could have given us more of an idea of what to expect. In regards to the maths exam she worked extremely hard to boost her grade from the pre-lim and she’s now gutted, hope the SQA will take on board what we have been saying about it.

  42. Tracy Orr

    My daughter is in the process of sitting the new higher qualifications. She has worked extremely hard, studying more than required. She left last Wednesday morning to sit higher maths feeling confident but this was short lived. She found it extremely hard, not at all like any of the classwork she had studied or indeed any of the past papers completed. Why the SQA felt this exam was appropriate I do not know. It has destroyed my daughters confidence and that of many of her classmates. I feel they have made a major mistake.

  43. Lisa Thirgood

    I am a grade A student, especially in maths, where I’ve always had A1s and never had a B. I had practiced all of the model papers, specimens and past papers for maths before the exams and I got As in all of them. However, in the new maths exam I couldn’t even answer half of the questions. The context was totally different to any of the practice papers, we hadn’t look at questions like them in class. I feel totally let down by my maths exam as I was supposed to get 5As at higher and now I don’t even feel as if I’ll get a B in maths which is outrageous considering I know the higher course very well and I’ve never not had an A in maths. So far with the other highers- Human Biology in particular- I’ve found the papers to be poor and very irrelevant. Again with human biology I knew the course inside out but the questions in the paper were stuff we had not looked at as the teacher did not know we had to know it as it wasn’t in books and was so irrelevant.

    I’m not impressed with the new highers and if I don’t get my 5As I will be extremely upset and let down.

  44. john Estcourt

    I like many other parents were shocked to see so many students clearly distressed by this exam.
    It would appear that the exam they sat bore no similarity to any previous exam nor to the style of teaching even though she was doing the new CofE syllabus .
    The style of question and the time limit imposed were clearly unrealistic.
    My Daughter could not have been more prepared. A grade student all year, private tutor up to the night before.
    A grades all Nabs, prelims etc.
    7 A grades at national 5, all down to shear hard work and determination to become a Vet.
    She set out for the exam actually looking forward to it!
    However she came out devastated as did her friends.
    This exam has risked the future careers of hundreds of students who wanted to study medicine etc.
    No appeals and cannot resit for Vet school.
    If my daughter was alone in finding the exam so distressing I would have no grounds for complaint and neither could she, however all of her friends were exactly the same. Students who were up until then A grade, now unsure if they will even pass.
    I know of teachers who have openly stated that the paper was grossly unfair, unreasonable and in fact baffling!
    Clearly the SQA are on a different planet and do not talk to the Schools.
    I would like to know what the SQA intend to do to rectify this, surely this is classed as grounds for appeal.

  45. Elizabeth Aitken

    My daughter in S5 sat the new Higher in Maths last Wednesday. Having seen the paper and following my daughters teachers views, it appears the paper was set at a level above the CFE higher Maths course they were taught. I personally don’t understand the logic behind this as the kids have now not been tested in my opinion to their abilities. Higher Maths is not the only paper to suffer this as the same problem arose in the CFE higher Biology exam, it was different to the syllabus teachers had taught with many calculator questions and questions set at a more difficult level than Advanced higher Biology. I am hugely concerned to say the least. These kids depend on SQA to get it right being the first year group to experience these new qualification, qualifications they need for uni etc. Teachers are angry as to how different these exams have been compared to the course content, sample and example papers given, which was only 1 of each! Not good! I wish these exams had been introduced when ALL schools felt prepared to do so as I always thought someone would be at a disadvantage. Please sort this out and learn for next year’s CFE Advanced Highers, this is our kids futures which are being played with here!

  46. Mrs Wilson

    My son sat the New Higher Math’s and came home devastated at the difficulty of it. Not his strongest subject, he had worked long and hard since his Prelim on as many Past Papers and examples as he could find and was regularly getting a B pass which is what he needs for Uni. His first words … I’ve not passed that! Heartbreaking. There were many questions him and lots of his friends were unable to attempt, leaving them distressed at the amount of marks they couldn’t even try for. We know of pupils who were leaving the exam early crying and Math’s teachers I hear have been unclear about some of the questions. Focusing on his exam the next day was difficult and he was extra anxious going in to it so psychologically the maths exam done a lot of damage. As seen by the thousands of signatures on the online petitions, and the newspaper reports, they were not alone! Children across Scotland have been subjected to an overly difficult exam with questions not resembling the ‘pretend’ Past Papers which as the guinea pigs for the New Higher was all they had to go on as an example. It’s going to be a long anxious wait until the 4th August to see what the SQA grade them all at.

  47. Scott

    Hi. I sat the exam and study extremely hard for this exam. Every spare minute I had I studied. And the exam was nothing like I have seen before. I don’t blame my teachers as they have been told what we have to learn and some the questions in that we’re just to hard. Please help fix this for our sake and future higher maths candidates.
    Thanks

  48. Jacqueline whitehead

    My daughter is at present in s6. She was one of the young adults who took the new higher maths. When she rang me after the exam she was distraught. She really thinks she has failed as none of the questions were similar to any sample papers she did . She has told me most of the the questions didn’t relate to anything they had been taught. I am proud of the fact that she struggled through and completed it to the best level she could. Many of her classmates gave up and left the room early as they just couldn’t do it.
    My daughters future career depends on the grade she receives for this exam, it makes me angry when I know all the hard work, time and study she put into this subject.Her Nabs and prelim show she would be expected to achieve her required grade. Even her math teacher thought it was difficult! From reading the many comments she is not the only one to think all her dreams of a bright future have been dashed.
    My daughter also took the new higher biology exam. After this exam she told me that it was more like a math exam than a biology exam ! I would be interested to know whether any other students thought this too. This new system needs to be looked into. What happens to our children if they fail , as many university’s will not allow you a place on a re- sit ?

    • Karen Drennan

      Hello, in response to your query on the new Higher Biology exam, my daughter and her friends felt exactly the same. The questions were mostly problem-solving and required more maths skills than biology. Unfortunately, after the horrendous maths paper her confidence has been shattered and I’m sure this will affect subsequent exams. I emailed the SQA asking what procedures they have in place for this scenario but have yet to receive a reply.

  49. Susan

    Hi,
    I am really sorry that I am unable to attend the meeting tonight due to work commitments. My daughter sat the New Higher Maths exam this year and was completely devastated after sitting the exam. Throughout the year she scored really well on NABs and small class tests, and therefore felt confident going into the exam. However, after the exam she now feels that she will not pass or be lucky to achieve grade D or C at a push! She is completely gutted as this will prevent her from getting the grades she needs for University. I would also like to add that the materials she had to study from were mostly insufficient. These included Old Higher Past Papers and New Higher Specimen papers which she feels had no reflection on the exam style questions. She also feels that she had never seen exam style questions at such a difficult standard neither in the classroom or in any paper. The exam is no true reflection of my daughter’s hard work and dedication! May I add that this was also the same case for other subjects such as New Higher English where no questions directly fitted any material she had learned and she spent the first 10 minutes of paper two trying to manipulate her material to fit the questions. I would appreciate if my comments were passed on!
    Many thanks.

  50. Jim Dewar

    I am writing to register my anger, and disappointment on behalf of my wife, myself and in particular my daughter who sat the recent Higher Maths exam.

    To say like the thousands of other candidates in Scotland that she is totally demoralised and deflated is an understatement. To sit an exam paper so ineptly compiled after countless hours of study and preparation is soul destroying not only for the candidates, but teachers and private home tutors also.

    What totally amazes me is that the exam papers appear to bear no correlation to the curriculum taught and I wonder
    what processes SQA have in place to ensure the appropriateness and validity of exam papers. No one expects a Higher Maths paper to be easy but what we do expect is a fair paper taking into account the broad range of abilities and giving every young person a chance.

    The condescending statements made by SQA have done nothing to calm my daughter or to allay her concerns or that of her fellow candidates who sat the exam, in fact it shows just how out of touch they really are.

    This exam has managed to ruin hopes and ambitions for many students throughout the country and has had a knock on effect to their confidence while still waiting to sit further higher exams.

    Surely in 2015 we must be able to do better for our young persons in particular.

    If you could raise our concerns with the appropriate bodies I would be obliged and get an answer to why this was allowed to happen in the first place?

  51. Jennifer Potter

    I agree with the comment from the mother about her demoralised daughter. My son also worked through all the SQA specimen papers but felt that this did nothing to prepare him for the exam. It was a maths exam, not a test of wordy English text. My son, too, is dreading the next exam and is now wondering if all his hard work will prove to be a waste of time.

  52. Jack Cumming

    I won’t be able to get down to Glasgow this evening but appreciate the opportunity to make a comment. My son who is in 5th year sat the CfE Higher Maths paper last week and had the same experience as almost everyone else. He has consistently been achieving an ‘A’ grade on all the tests in the run up and taken advantage of special study days at school. He also did every single specimen paper available from the SQA and achieved the marks he expected. Like most of his peers he was shocked at the level of Paper 2. The questions were worded in such an obscure way that he spent an excessive amount of time trying to work out what he was being asked to do. By the time he had an idea of what to do he found his time was limited. His brother came home from Edinburgh University on Sunday and took a crack at the paper. He achieved an ‘A’ in both the old Higher Maths and Advanced Higher Maths and has just finished his 3rd year in Physics, which has a huge Maths element in it. Although he was able to work out the answers (with 4 years more maths at a high level) he said he could not have done the paper under the time pressure of exam conditions. In his opinion there was not enough time to complete the paper and that even at his advanced stage he would have struggled. That simply can’t be right.

    I have also discussed with friends who are maths teachers and privately they all agree that the wording and sheer number of questions was not what they had been expecting. While they all tell us that the marking will reflect the severity of the exam, that is not my main concern. I know several students who have basically given up on their consequent exams because of this one rogue paper. Having worked extremely hard all year they are thinking “what’s the point if we are going to be set a paper like that?”

    I feel really sorry for all of the students and their teachers who have worked so hard. This paper bore no resemblance to the past or specimen papers and has taken the wind out of their sails. Even with adjusted grade boundaries there will be many students who will have failed to reach their potential simply because of the way the questions were worded. Fair enough, problem solving is a skill but there seems to have been too high a proportion of questions at the hardest level.

    Good luck with your meeting and I will watch with interest.

  53. elspeth mclean

    It is all very well to say that ‘no learner will be disadvantaged’ but really is it necessary to make the higher maths paper that difficult in the first place. I am a secondary teacher and believed that stringent measures were taken by SQA to ensure consistency in standards and content of all exams, This has been the case up till now, but after my son has sat his ‘new’ highers this year, I am beginning to have my doubts. The maths paper was so difficut that some of my maths colleagues were unable to complete it, with the wording being lengthy and difficult to interpret. I feel for the pupils who have been guinea pigs in their National 5 exams last yea, their highers this year and we are not looking forward to the National 7 (AH) exams next year. The whole system seems to be flying by the seat of its pants without adequate support for teachers or learners. What 2 example/specimen papers there were for this year seem to not bear any resemblance to the maths paper they sat. Will they just ‘scale’ the marks down so the results look good? That is not the answer. The answer is getting the level of the exam right in the first place so that the moral of these pupils is not shattered.

  54. Pamela Tilley

    Much has been made of the new maths higher but the biology higher was the same. When the biology higher was over and the paper passed to a teacher the teacher was in tears! What does this tell us????

  55. Elaine Traynor

    My daughter has studied really hard throughout the year to achieve an A pass in her higher maths. She achieved a 1 in her national 5 and A in her higher maths prelim and now down to the impossibility and unfairness of this exam her future hopes could be taken from her and hundreds of students like her. The SQA should be ashamed and pass marks most definiently lowered also previous results taken into account . I think there should be an outside enquiry looking at this .

  56. Rona Chisholm

    My daughter, S5 CFE guinea-pig, who has one more New Higher to take this week found your website and details of tonight’s forum. I cannot attend tonight but will eagerly look out for the outcome of this event. I totally agree with the comments re the New Higher Maths exam, in my daughter’s frustrated words after the exam “we’ve been taught the wrong course for the past year”.The disruption and upset the National 5s and New Highers have caused my daughter, her peers and teachers has been frustrating and unnecessary. Goodness knows how the teachers managed to keep going with the New Highers, second guessing the syllabus and now looking at the exam content a lot of that guess work was wrong! Plus for 6th year the new Advanced Highers for some subjects, e.g.Biology, can’t even be delivered by my daughter’s school. She will need to go to the College at least twice per week for AH Biology. I could go on but I hope the discussion tonight is beneficial to sorting out the mess of CFE.

  57. Shauna Hiddleston

    I am unfortunately unable to attend tonight’s meeting at GCU. My daughter sat the old style higher maths exam last week. Paper 1 was as expected but paper 2 bore no resemblance to the previous past papers which all students expecting to sit the old style exam have studied and practiced over the last year. My daughter has worked extremely hard for this exam and was thoroughly unprepared for the form of questions presented in paper 2. Paper 2 had exactly the same questions for those pupils supposedly sitting the old style higher as well as those pupils sitting the new CfE higher. How can the SQA justify using the exact same questions for 2 different syllabuses taught? The style of the questions was entirely different to the style of questions in the old higher past papers and so those students studying the old higher had absolutely no preparation for the type of questions asked in paper 2. The SQA’s statement that no pupil will be disadvantages is absolute nonsense- it is impossible to ascertain the mathaticsl ability of the pupils sitting this exam using the papers involved. SQA should be going back to the individual schools and teachers for every pupil to assess the pass level to be awarded otherwise the whole system is worthless.

  58. Heather Wallace

    Unfortunately we cannot attend meeting but we have the same opinion as most others.
    My son has been attending counselling due to exam anxiety which started last year
    when he was preparing to sit 5 highers maths, three sciences and computing. He was unable
    To sit the exams because he was so ill with stress so he was doing 4 highers this year
    And again when it came to prelims he was showing signs of exam anxiety so he went to
    A private counsellor and paid for a maths tutor. His first two exams went well and unfortunately
    he was one if the pupils who had to sit the new higher maths exam and has still chemistry higher
    To sit. What is the SQA trying to do, these exams are not only causing stress to the pupils but teachers and parents. How can the SQA make things right for the pupils who have sat this exam. They were
    So anxious reading through the paper that there is no way these pupils have reached there full
    Potential and after having practised past papers and thought they were well equipped to sit exam.

  59. My son sat the New Higher Maths and was absolutely devastated with the exam,it bore no resemblance to past papers or exemplers which are SQA endorsed. It appears that someone in the SQA should be answerable to this travesty.Lowering the grade of the paper is not a satisfactory solution to this problem and would not appear to be a ‘fair’ marking scheme either.It does seem that students, and teachers were absolutely shocked at the content and after a year of hard study it would appear for nothing.

  60. Rhona Findlay

    My daughter was predicted an A band 1 for her higher maths . After the exam, which she found difficult, absurdly difficult, she now believes she will be lucky to get a pass. Many of the questions were poorly worded and contexts were misleading. She now has no confidence at all in her ability. I am disgusted because I see how much she has studied and how hard she has worked- to see her crushed is just awful. I hope that people who matter take note of what has been done to these guinea pigs!

  61. Ali Maclean

    My daughter sat the new Higher Maths exam last week. In her prelim she attained an A pass with 77%. She has an A in her National 5 exam. She is a highly diligent and academically-able pupil, however she does find exams very stressful.

    As a mother I was appalled to find that she came away from her first paper in tears as she found many questions impossible. She had then to face paper 2 in a state of emotional upset. Unfortunately she found again many questions confusing and almost impossible to solve. She has looked on-line at the answers and believes she has got 20/60 in her first paper. Not surprising then, that she came out in tears, devastated. Overall she thinks she may have 51-58%.

    I would like the SQA to use an Appeals procedure this year for the new Higher Maths exam. I feel this is necessary to rectify the unfairness that this exam did not reflect Specimen papers and the heavy emphasis on problem-solving and language based questions. No extra time was given for this nor for the extra number of questions in the paper. It is also necessary as, although the existing Higher exam had an almost identical second paper, their first paper appears to have been fairer, according to Maths teachers, and therefore the pupils faced their second paper in a more positive frame of mind.

    What cannot be undone by the SQA is the huge knock to my daughter’s confidence for her last 2 exams and her feeling of pointlessness for all her hard work this year in Maths. Now is the SQA’s opportunity to take ownership for an exam that did not fairly assess these pupils’ abilities. The decision to have an Appeals procedure and/ or moderate using prelim results and National 5 results needs to be taken soon so that these pupils, and their families, can be reassured of a fair outcome and feel that integrity is at work in the Scottish Education system.

  62. Kelly

    I would like some assurance from the SQA that the students who sat the new higher maths exam will not be disadvantaged against the students who sat the old higher. The new higher included questions that were unsuitable given the content of the course and the specimen papers provided. If these students performed poorly after their confidence was knocked by these questions it would be unfair if their marks were not standardised in some way with the marks given to those sitting the older style higher. After all these students will be competing with each other for university places and it should be a level playing field. My own daughter is devastated as she needed an A at first sitting and now doubts she will achieve this despite being reasonable confident before the exam.

  63. Catherine Thwaites

    My daughter is in S5 and attends one of the tiny minority (three?) of schools in Scotland who decided NOT to present S4 pupils for any external exams. Consequently, her first ever exams were six higher prelims in S5 (the school didn’t even do S3 or S4 end of year exams). Needless to say, the new Maths Higher has caused immense upset and left her – and many others – feeling very demoralised. Thank goodness Maths wasn’t one of the earlier exams, because how can the SQA take into account the effect of 20th May Maths on students’ subsequent exam performance?

    Another concern is the disparity between schools’ adoption of cfe across Scotland. In my daughter’s school, S4 pupils had apparently finished their Nat 5 coursework at the end of S4 but those in the Nat 5 pipeline had to wait a further year to sit their exams! Whereas in the majority of Scottish schools they could have been presented at the end of S4. Indeed, all S4 pupils could have been given the opportunity to achieve some qualifications and valuable exam experience…instead it’s all riding on the 2015 exams.

    So Nat 5 pupils were denied the opportunity to succeed in 2014 – instead they have had to tread water for another year – often in mixed Nat 5 and Higher classes which must have been frustrating to both pupils and teachers alike.

    Another disparity is that my daughter’s school have made Nat5/Higher English and Maths optional and no longer compulsory. Those without English and Maths qualifications could be disadvantaged in the future – when they are up against pre-2015 pupils and up against pupils from other Scottish and English schools where Maths and English was compulsory.

    Overall, it seems that my daughter’s year have been guinea-pigs – and will be so again in S6 – when ironically enough they can take more Highers in a year! We were told that cfe would eliminate the old “two term dash for Higher”.

    As if all of this was not concerning enough, it beggars belief that the SQA will no longer be allowing appeals from 2015…or was there a method to their madness – judging from the huge numbers of disgruntled students, parents and teachers?

    • Michelle Wallace

      Catherine, your comments are well said and reflect what the majority of pupils and parents feel from our school. I fear that not much will be done judging from our First Ministers response when questioned at Holyrood.

  64. Wilma McLaughlin

    I attended the focus group meeting last night and was delighted to meet some parents who were also disappointed and outraged with the SQAs response to the New Higher Maths paper. It was good to speak to a maths teacher at the meeting who felt the same as other parents. It is an absolute disgrace that the children, parents and teachers have been left with no explanation from the SQA. They have submitted a completely inadequate response stating that no child will be disadvantaged. This does not explain why the maths papers 1 and 2 bore no resemblance to the New Higher Maths Course the schools had prepared the children for. Specimen papers which are available on this site clearly show this. I think every parent should register their discontent on this site as this is the proper forum to do so. I would also urge all parents who feel their child has been misrepresented to register their complaint with the SQA, their child’s school, the director of education at their authority and email or write their complaint to Angela Constance and their local MSP. I personally feel my child’s school prepared the children as best they could and did every thing they could to raise attainment in maths, supporting them by way of supported study. S5 and S6 children have now been left demoralised with little confidence in this subject. The SQA cannot wait until August without commenting teachers, parents and above all our children need a reply as to what went wrong with the system that allowed this maths exam to go ahead

  65. paula

    I’m a mature student who’s went back into education. I sat the new national 5 biology and chemistry last year and this year Sat the new cfe higher human biology and the new higher chemistry. The biology exam was okay but I’ve just sat the chemistry exam today and it was horrendous!! Way to much writing required for t he time given, 3 open ended questions which take a full a4 page each to explain along with other questions that required alot of writining! Only one person left before allotted time which is rare out of around 50 students, everyone walked out complaining there wasn’t enough time and hadn’t even finished the paper! I’ve lost 15 marks straight away due to running out of time!

    Also both years we’ve had to do general assignments along with both subjects, worth 20 marks on your final grade. To me they are a complete waste of time! All the research is completed online or from text book printed off and your sit exam style and your expected to write a 1500 word paper?! This is not showing off someone’s knowledge, anyone can look up this stuff online and write about it!

    Personally they have rolled out the cfe far to quick, there is not enough textbooks, course material available, lecturers are struggling to know what to teach and juggle class for the assignment also!

  66. paula

    Really happy to see other commenters saying about the cfe biology, human biology and chemistry! Really hope this gets brought up at the meeting!!

  67. Rona Chisholm

    I know the meeting has been but can I ask the question why no appeals are allowed this year for Highers? Surely as this is the first year of the New Highers there should be an appeals process? At FMQ last week it was pointed out the appeals system would be “tested to destruction” especially due to the Maths and Biology Higher exam papers. How can this be as appeals are not allowed this year? Or is it up to the local authority or school if appeals can be requested? Thank you

  68. Thank you so much to all of you who have shared your views. We are greatly appreciate you taking the time to get in touch and are very sorry to hear of these experiences. We will ensure that your comments are added to our bank of evidence on this issue. We suggest that, if you have not already done so, you address your concerns in writing to the SQA so that there is a record of parents’ and candidates’ complaints with regards to the exams. Regards, Barbara (NPFS Policy Manager)

    • Pamela Tilley

      Would it be possible to help with a template letter? I’m sure there will be a lot of parents who would struggle getting their feelings down on paper and this might encourage a better response to the SQA. Thank you.

    • sheila hshughes

      Now that the worst has happened and my son has results that nowhere near reflect his academic ability – this will mean he is unlikely to get a university place to study law, where do we go from here?

      • Hi Sheila, I’m sorry to hear about your son’s results. Have you tried calling the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000? You can also look at the following for info and advice: My World of Work

  69. J Wilson

    I would still like an enquiry as my kids got widely varied marks from what was expected in Physics. And there is no appeal ssytem and I asked for three Appeals. It was not just the Maths where there were problems.

    I have to say that I have lost faith really in the whole system. I went to University myself but I am now finding it difficult to see why that is even a worthwhile target. The Universities are asking for particular subjects yet the pupils cant even get to take particular subjects at school as classes are full or they cant take for example National 5 in 5th year which they were supposed to be able to do.

    Am I the only one as well who detects that boys in particular (or no doubt techy girls) are being hit by the loss of Graphic Communications as a widespread Adv Higher. The techincal subjects have been “artified” – and this year that seemed to include maths as the people who set that exam got wrapped over knuckles for being too wordy in the setting that exam.

    I hope you can represent us as currently my local MSP (SNP) is washing his hands of it and doesnt see a problem !

  70. J Wilson

    Just to add to the previous comment re Appeals – we didnt get one for a D to a C that was very close but I know someone at a neighbouring school who had the same prelim mark and same exam mark in same subject who did get one, no questions asked …. how can that be ! But then the Appeals are no longer reflecting on your work throughout the year which yes was maybe exploited a bit before but really they should have kept that.

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