As the debate over National 45 and 2+2+2 or 3+3 curriculum structures ignites, I was struck by some pupils' comments.
After being questioned by an S3 class about the rationale behind Curriculum for Excellence, I was amazed at their unanimous condemnation of the idea that S4s in future would drop from eight to five subjects. I am sure none of them has read any Building the Curriculum documents, but they argued very coherently that eight subjects allows them to pursue a balanced course that keeps their options for future study and careers open.
When a similar discussion occurred with an S6 pupil, again I was struck by his insightful comments. The boy concerned had taken time to "grow into" Standard grade physics, where he consistently performed at a borderline GeneralCredit level through S3 and S4, but went on to achieve a Credit pass and a B at Higher, and is on track for a B at Advanced Higher. He commented that under the new exam arrangements, he would probably have never achieved a National 5, would likely have ended up in a two-year Higher class and never had the opportunity to study the subject at Advanced Higher. He finished the conversation by saying: "Who would want to choose their Highers at the end of S3 anyway?"
As the great and good of Scottish education start getting twitchy that the CfE vision is becoming clouded by schools and authorities acting in the best interests of children, maybe it's time they looked at the posters that adorn all of our walls and remember that children are meant to be at the centre of this new curriculum and unless we meet their needs, CfE will have indeed failed.
B Cochrane, Edinburgh.