Scottish pupils ‘forced to take subjects they hate’

More than half of schoolchildren do not get to study all the subjects they want, a Scottish Parliament survey has revealed, with youngsters claiming they are “forced” to take classes they “hate”.

Research by the Scottish Parliament’s Education Committee found 56% of youngsters in the senior phase of secondary school were not able to take all the classes they wanted.

The most common reasons given for this were timetabling clashes, the school not offering the subject a student wanted to take and a shortage of teachers.

Conservative education spokeswoman  Liz Smith raised concerns youngsters were being “denied the opportunities for learning they both need and deserve”.

Parents told the committee having to take subjects they did not want to study was affecting their children’s motivation, leading to “unwillingness” to go to school.

One pupil who took part in the survey complained: “I wasn’t allowed to take modern studies and another social subject so I had to take art instead, which I hated.”

Another said they had been “forced to take Spanish (a course I have no interest in) and miss a class I really enjoy”.

A report on the research, prepared ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of the Education Committee, said: “It is interesting to note the language used by respondents to describe this outcome.

“For example, they were ‘forced to take’, ‘had to take’ or ‘got put into’ a subject.

“It is not just that they ultimately took a course they did not wish to study but that they had considered they had no choice in the outcome.”

Parents taking part in the survey voiced concerns “their children had narrowed their future career/college/university options too early”.

Ms Smith said: “No-one would expect every single pupil to be able to take every single subject they wanted.

“But this survey shows more than half of pupils are denied this opportunity.

“That speaks volumes about the narrowing choice of subjects being offered to Scotland’s pupils under this SNP Government.”

The Conservative MSP added: “Scotland used to be world-renowned for the breadth of education on offer in school.

“Now it’s more likely than not that our children will be denied the opportunities for learning they both need and deserve.”

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