Choice will be curriculum based

Glasgow's plans aim to balance comprehensive education against parental choice and, in the process, make both more effective.

The "five principles" could mean the city becoming a single catchment area with parents able to choose any school no matter where they lived. But, although parental choice has weakened the local comprehensive, the council says radical restructuring at this stage would be too costly in terms of bussing children across the city.

A statement of principle says: "Enlarging parental choice has to go clearly together with making all schools attractive in terms of courses, teaching, resources and accommodation, while allowing some diversity and specialisation in particular aspects of education. Choice, if it is to mean anything, means choosing from a range of equally or similarly attractive options."

The first key element in enhancing the curriculum is to be the creation of specialisms such as the visual arts, dance, music, sports and modern languages, offered in specific schools.

The second is the development of work-related courses from third year up with the emphasis on learning through practical aspects of the curriculum using new technology. The object is to increase pupil motivation and therefore attainment. Classes in those years would be limited to 20 pupils. The common core curriculum would remain throughout. Glasgow's leaders believe the proposals will prove attractive to parents, pointing out that where a specialism is available, as at the Dance School in Knightswood Secondary, the exodus from the city is reversed. The school currently has 63 pupils from outside the city boundaries.

Roman Catholic secondaries would have the provision of Catholic education as their primary "specialism" but would be able to develop others.

The council accepts that it will have to provide schools with the support to carry through the changes. Training in new technology will also be needed.

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