Curriculum Review Consultation – Summary of Responses

Curriculum Review Consultation – Summary of Responses

Curriculum Review Consultation – Summary of Responses


Dear Parent/Carer,

I said I would write to you following the results of the staff and pupil consultations regarding the proposed curriculum/timetable changes for 2017/18. This summary presents those results and outlines the final shape of the curriculum/timetable in response to the feedback received.


Parent/Carer Responses (as previously communicated)

Question & Topic Agree Neither Agree/ Disagree Disagree
1. 32 periods per week 71% 14% 15%
2. S1-3 curriculum 75% 19% 6%
3. Wider achievement (JASS/Skills etc.) 74% 20% 6%
4. 7 NQs in S4 72% 14% 14%
5. 5 choices in S5, up to 4 in S6 81% 14% 5%
6. Vertical registration & mentoring changes 53% 20% 27%


Staff Responses

Question & Topic Agree Neither Agree/ Disagree Disagree
1. 32 periods per week 79% 10% 10%
2. S1-3 curriculum 79% 21% 0%
3. Wider achievement (JASS/Skills etc.) 71% 25% 4%
4. 7 NQs in S4 79% 17% 4%
5. 5 choices in S5, up to 4 in S6 72% 26% 2%
6. Vertical registration & mentoring changes 58% 27% 15%


The responses from parents and staff show remarkable similarity. All questions received a clear majority of responses agreeing with the proposed changes. The change to vertical registration although receiving majorities in favour is where there is less strong support. In both groups it was the vertical registration that written responses were less positive about. The revised mentoring system proposal was generally well received.


Pupil Responses

In the light of responses from parents/carers we slightly revised the questions that we then put to the pupils of the school. Summaries of their responses are given below.


What time should the school day start and finish (Monday – Thursday)?

8.25am – 3.25pm 16%
8.35am – 3.35pm 41%
8.45am – 3.45pm 22%
9:00am – 4:00pm 20%


What arrangement of lessons during the day (including time for break and lunch) do you prefer?

Option 1: P1, P2, Break, P3, P4, P5, Lunch, P6, P7


LATER LUNCH – 1.10pm

Option 2: P1, P2, P3, Break, P4, P5, Lunch, P6, P7


LATER LUNCH – 1.10pm

Option 3: P1, P2, Break, P3, P4, Lunch, P5, P6, P7




What do you think of the change to 7 National Qualifications in S4?

Agree 58%
Neither agree/disagree 26%
Disagree 16%


What is your opinion on the proposed change to a Vertical Registration system?

Agree 7%
Neither agree/disagree 9%
Disagree 84%


What is your opinion on the proposed new Mentoring system?

Agree 44%
Neither agree/disagree 30%
Disagree 26%


Confirmation of Curriculum/Timetable Structure for 2017/18

On the basis of the consultation on the timetable and curriculum for 2017/18 the following changes will go ahead as previously indicated:


  1. The timetable will consist of 32 fifty-minute periods.
  2. Each period will be 50 minutes in length.
  3. Each day will begin with a 10-minute Registration period.
  4. The reorganisation of the S1-3 Broad General Education curriculum.
  5. S1, 2 and 3 will include specific time for Wider Achievement including JASS and STEM.
  6. Pupils in S4 will follow 7 National Qualification courses.
  7. Course choices (5 in S5, up to 4 in S6) will continue as currently.


As regards the specific start/finish times of the day and the arrangement of periods within each day the feedback from parents and pupils in particular was clearly weighted toward keeping close to the current start time for the day.


When we put out the documentation to accompany the parent consultation process we included a 2-3-2 period structure for the day. A structure preferred by staff. A number of parents pointed out the lateness of the lunch break in that structure. As a result of this we put to the pupils, as part of their consultation, three possible models for the school day. The 2-2-3 structure was, by a small majority, the most popular of the three choices.


Therefore, that is the structure for Monday to Thursday that we will adopt from the new timetable in May. Whatever structure we had adopted we would have been asking for staff and pupil views on it in October. We will be doing that with specific focus on the timing of lunchtime and should there be a strong feeling to change the morning/afternoon split that is something we can do.


Consequently, the structure of the school week (from the change of timetable) will be as follows:


Period Reg 1 2 Break 3 4 Lunch 5 6 7
Monday to Thursday 0835 to 0845 0845 to 0935 0935 to 1025 1025 to 1040 1040 to 1130 1130 to 1220 1220 to 1305 1305 to 1355 1355 to 1445 1445 to 1535
Friday 0835 to 0845 0845 to 0935 0935 to 1025 1025 to 1040 1040 to 1130 1130 to 1220        


Clearly the largest proportion of views that disagreed with a proposal was in regards to moving to a Vertical Registration structure. Although both staff and parents were in favour of this change it was clear from the written comments submitted by parents that there was less support for the vertical registration structure and more for the proposed mentoring arrangements. A very large proportion (89%) of pupils indicated they did not want to move to this structure next year.


Whilst, as a staff, we remain convinced of the benefits of such a structure for registration it does not seem sensible to proceed to this system when so many pupils remain unconvinced of those benefits. Consequently, although we may revisit the proposal at some point in the future, there will not be a vertical registration system at Firrhill in 2017/18.


I know this decision will be disappointing to those who, like me, were keen to try this new and exciting approach but it is clear to me that if this is to work we need to communicate much more clearly the many benefits to those most impacted by the change – our pupils.


Therefore, we will continue with horizontal (i.e. year group) registration groups.


We have discussed a move to four Houses from the current three and that has been, on the whole, positively received by pupils. We will be moving to four school Houses from the change of timetable in May. This will require some slight reorganisation of registration groups to make this possible. In the vast majority of cases pupils will remain paired with their current Pupil Support Leader even if the House their class is in changes.


There is clear support across all three consulted groups for a new mentoring system to replace the current Group Tutor model. This is not dependent on a change to vertical registration so new mentoring arrangements will go ahead. All pupils in S2 – S5 will have a Mentor in addition to their Pupil Support Leader. Mentors will have time to meet with pupils and they will have structured meetings with each of their pupils to focus on progress, improvement and next steps at key points during the year. In S1 where the focus is on settling-in to Firrhill and in S6 where the focus is on moving on to a sustained positive destination the mentor for each pupil will be their Pupil Support Leader.


The process of arriving at this final package of curriculum/timetable changes has been considerable. A great deal of time, energy and thought has gone into shaping a curriculum that we believe will improve the chances of every pupil at Firrhill. This summary is already long enough so additional information will follow in due course with regard to the move to four Houses and on the specific arrangements for the mentoring system.


Given the breadth of the consultation and the shaping of the final curriculum in light of that consultation I would hope that every member of the school community will feel able, whatever their particular personal viewpoint, to approach these changes in a positive and supportive way. The final curriculum structure has been shaped in different ways by the views of parents, pupils and staff.


It is not possible for a development on this scale to be carried out without the efforts and expertise of a great many people. However, I would like to specifically thank Depute Headteacher Mrs Roberta Porter who has been the lead on this major development for Firrhill and has done so in a most consultative, professional and thorough manner.




Graham Hamilton


16 March 2017

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