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Curriculum for Mediocrity?

Brian Taylor | 12:29 UK time, Monday, 1 March 2010

Scotland's education system, it seems to me, has suffered from two fundamental problems.

One, an overblown conceit of itself. Two, a temptation to experiment among people who should know better.

It is almost the direct opposite of the attitudes which pervade with regard to the health service.

There, people voice concern about the general direction of care while acknowledging that their own personal experience has, mostly, been positive.

With education, we cling stubbornly to the view that the Scottish system is the best in the world - while evidence all around us points in a contrary direction.

Is it possible, just possible, that there may be the first signs of a change?

Today, we learn that the teaching union the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association are suggesting the Curriculum for Excellence might have to be delayed.

Fresh thinking?

They note its objective of cross-curricular instruction may be fine and dandy for primary school where such an approach is already the norm.

It may, however, require a little work when one is obliged to blend Mathematics, Modern Languages and PE into the mix.

The danger, they seem to be suggesting, is that over-eager implementation might lead to an unsuitable system for a generation of secondary pupils - to a Curriculum for Mediocrity, in short.

Far from ridiculing this suggestion as the meanderings of class-room Luddites, Education Secretary Mike Russell has indicated he is open to persuasion on this point.

Further, Mr Russell has recently been animadverting on the near-uniformity of our delivery systems in schools.

Why, he has pondered, should we not consider other structures? Fresh thinking?

The SNP are not without their critics in this field. Their ambitious promises re class sizes in early years are now coming back to bite them in decidedly tender zones.

But it is to be hoped that the minister's musings might attract discussion shorn of prejudice and fixed positions.


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