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30 years ago

The future of the comprehensive school was being vigorously debated in these pages, barely a decade after its introduction (TESS, May 21, 1976): Secondary schooling should end for all pupils at the age of 16 and should provide a programme of general education, says Dr Keri Davies of Stirling University education department, in an article in the magazine of the Central Region Science Teachers Association.

Students over 16 should be taught in further education colleges, as should those seeking university entrance, doing a two-year course for five or six Higher grades and three CSYS subjects.

The emphasis in secondary should be education through subjects rather than instruction in subjects. Teachers who saw their subjects as contributing to general education would stay in schools and those who saw their subjects as distinctive disciplines would opt for college.

Such a scheme would leave pupils' career and curricular choice to age 16.

Many of the difficulties facing all-through comprehensives derive from the range of maturity of the pupils, the repertoire of styles demanded from teachers and the tendency to regard the oldest pupils as the most important.

Meanwhile a survey by the Headteachers' Association of Scotland found no support from any area outside the central belt for the establishment of sixth-form colleges. But one member told its spring conference that the difficulties schools said they faced with the sixth year would disappear .. . once a rational school system and a national curriculum was introduced.

William O'Carroll, the head of St Modan's High in Stirling, likened the HAS survey to something cartographers around 1450 might have undertaken in an effort to improve maps of the flat earth.

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