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Art and design obsessed with accuracy

The new expressive arts curriculum guidelines will require a cultural shift and take some time to bed in, predicts Diarmuid McAuliffe, who lectures in art education at the University of the West of Scotland.

The art and design curriculum is obsessed with observation and "notions of accuracy", believes the Scottish member of the teacher education board of the National Society for Education in Art and Design.

"I do get a sense from the new curriculum that there is a slight shift from that to meaning over form," he said.

He welcomes references in the draft outcomes to "relevant contexts", which he thinks will make art more relevant and meaningful to young people.

"The feeling I get from teachers at the moment is that this is all very well, but how is it all going to be assessed?"

Some of the document's language is "too flowery" and not explicit enough - particularly its failure to address how to bridge the primarysecondary transition - he argues.

Louise Timney, principal teacher of music at Inverkeithing High, also takes issue with some of the language used. References to the "magic" and "wonder" of the expressive arts will give succour to teachers of music and art being portrayed as "arty-farty", she fears.

Nevertheless, the new guidelines will not require music teachers to make any significant changes to what they are doing.

"It will allow us to reflect on and evaluate what we are doing and it gives us something to measure what we are doing against," she said.

But the cross-curricular nature of the guidelines should reinforce the relationship between departments, which should be a good thing for expressive arts.

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