The new National course are meant to be one year courses but are they? Most departments have done the ground work for Nat 5 during the BGE phrase and Nat 5 consists of consolidating and developing existing knowledge. But what happens when pupils decide to do a ‘crash Nat 5’? This is when the National truely becomes a 1 year course.
This is what happened in my subject this year when two intrepid S6 students decided to take Nat 5 despite having no experience of it. I don’t have any ‘proper’ Nat 5 pupils this year so the course is being run purely as a crash course – there is no fluff, no nice little extras, just what they absolutely need to know.
Trying to cover the basics before getting into the main N5 content is of course a must – things like numbers, days of the week and school subjects which are taught in S1 have to be mastered before anything more complex like past tense irregular verbs. In addtion, everything has to move a breakneck speed in order to cram it all it and homework by the bucket load is an absolute must.
These are the things that are different for a crash course in my opintion
1. Depth of learning – moving so quickly means not everything has a chance to be absorbed and practiced properly
2. Expectations – both mine and the pupils
3. Modifying resources – normal Nat 5 resources and plans don’t automatically transfere
4. Not assuming any prior or retained knowledge – hard for teachers
5. Skill development
- Reading – easiest to teach and good dictionary skills go a long way
- Listening – most difficult part
- Writing – on a specific subject and can be practiced and perfected before being reproduced in the exam
- Speaking – can be practiced to death so that the pupil gets the best possible marks
On the other hand I have found as a teacher that I have gained a greater understanding of the content and standards of the Nat 5 course and content which will help me across all levels and has helped me create better resources for Nat 5 in general.