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30 years ago

The "fresh start" controversy was not so fresh, even three decades ago (TESS, May 7): Guidance staff could be excellent contacts in the organisation of primary-secondary liaison, said Mr Don Whyte, HMI in primary education, at Seamill teachers' centre last week.

Too often liaison was confined to an occasional meeting between headteachers with, perhaps, a single visit by the primary pupils to the secondary school.

Mr Whyte, who was speaking at a conference for Glasgow teachers organised by the Central Committee on Guidance (Glasgow), said there should be a variety of meetings between a variety of people. A close partnership should be built up between the primary management team and the guidance staff.

(But) sometimes, contact between primary and secondary school was limited to discussion of transfer sheets.

Liaison should not be a once-yearly affair, to be settled in an afternoon.

Time must be found for more interchange between schools, which could include exchange teaching. There should be phased familiarisation.

Primary schools were inclined to be too passive .J.J. Usually, it appeared to be the secondary headteacher and the nursery school which approached the primary school. There seemed to be a pecking order, with the primary school almost always at the receiving end.

Curricular primary-secondary liaison could be over-emphasised, said Mr Whyte, and it was not always the most useful basis for discussion. The starting point should be the child and his needs - the guidance factor - and, from there, staff could move on to the curriculum.

The knowledge of the child, his family and his community accumulated by the primary staff over seven years should not be underestimated, though it was also true that every child was entitled to a fresh start.

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