5. Personal pathway
Q4: What are your views on the proposals designed to recognise achievements in respect of personal learning?
As in the main analysis, respondents welcomed the personal pathway proposals for a range of reasons. These included enhancing awareness of wider society, supporting less academic pupils to learn and evidence their capabilities, and to prepare young people for the outside world.
"Crucial to the development of our young people as citizens, this will enhance their awareness of wider society and hopefully lead to a more balanced outlook on life and the world."
"I think that it's great and helps students to grow and express themselves. The social part is effective in making young people feel part of something big and important, the cultural part helps students to express themselves creatively and the economic part allows them to experience life in the work world, prepare themselves for the outside world and give them an idea of what they might want to do when they leave school."
"In general, pupils felt that this was a positive proposal and they would like to have their talents recognised. One pupil stated that "it would benefit those who give up their free time to make a difference in the school and would make those who do other things feel recognised". Pupils felt that it would be positive for prospective employers to be able to see their additional talents and achievements outwith a purely educational context."
Respondents focusing on GME were positive about the potential for the Personal Pathway to be of benefit for GME learners, particularly given the importance of community involvement in offering opportunities for developing language skills.
"The Personal Pathway will be of significant importance to GME as extra-curricular/out of school activities such as An Deasbad Nàiseanta, Film-G, The Royal National Mod etc, along with community involvement, play a critical role for opportunities to use and develop Gaelic skills. It is right that achievement in these kind of activities should be recognised. Equitable access to extra-curricular Gaelic medium activities should be the aim, to ensure the same opportunities for EME pupils exist in GME settings."
The main analysis showed that many respondents raised concerns about unequal access to opportunities, with factors including limited family support, low household income, additional support needs, geographic location, and digital exclusion. Analysis of the later responses found similar concerns.
"We have many concerns around equity in this area. Whilst recognising that learning takes place away from the classroom and the school we know that some young people have advantages over others in this area - support of parents for example, access to money to support their interests etc. How would this be moderated and verified if it were to be part of an overall Diploma?"
"Extra-curricular activities are to be encouraged and should be rewarding and offer growth for students, but I would be concerned that pupils in care, young carers, those from low socio-economic backgrounds, homes where domestic violence, abuse or addictions may be present, will not have the same opportunities to indulge in such activities and therefore never achieve this aspect of the award."
Pupils in in one of school responses indicated similar concerns around equity of opportunity.
"Some concerns were flagged however, in relation to the equity of such a system as the opportunity to engage in wider experiences may be more limited for some pupils depending on their background. It was felt that the system would have to be fair with appropriate systems in place to ensure that all pupils had equal opportunities to have achievements recognised."
5.2 Issues raised by schools
A range of potential issues with the proposal were raised by schools, particularly in relation to the role of teachers in assessing and recording evidence. The majority of these issues were raised by those broadly in favour of the proposals, but who had concerns about implementation based on their previous experience.
"Personalisation works well for a lot of pupils to increase engagement. It does make consistent and fair marking much more challenging for teachers especially if a pupil has knowledge or interest in an area the teacher is not equipped to investigate. We currently face this at times when doing the current assignments. If a pupils picks a topic that is unusual then supporting them with a lack of knowledge myself is hard."
"I see great value in this, but worry about the mechanisms for recording of evidence.
I consider my own experiences leading a number of overseas World Challenge expeditions. For each and every student, the outcome has been exceptionally beneficial. Their achievements should be formally recognised and celebrated. However, never is there an element of "I better get collecting evidence here". How would that change moving forward?"
Some school responses indicated that the proposal could not be led by teachers within existing staffing, and would require additional resource, such as youth work staff.
"I do not wish to be overly negative here – it would certainly be a good thing to encourage young people to engage in community activities and to encourage schools to put more emphasis on their importance. However – I think if this were to be included as credit towards a qualification then there would need to be a significant resource allocation of youth work staff given to each school to operate it – it could not be operated by teacher volunteers within existing staffing."
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