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Citizenship is a 'catalyst' for primary curriculum

PRIMARY education is at a watershed, Stephen McKenzie, head of quality and service development in Renfrewshire, told a conference for the authority's primary and special school headteachers.

Mr McKenzie, a former 5-14 development officer, forecast that teaching values and citizenship could be "the catalyst to bring about curriculum change" and a more holistic way of teaching.

He felt teachers would respond positively and were well aware of the difference it would make in terms of quality interactions with their pupils.

Patrick Boyle, head of St Charles primary in Paisley, preferred a "crossroads" analogy but agreed that teachers should "hang on to the uniqueness of primary education" when there was much debate around specialist and generalist teachers.

"If the curriculum is not altered, then it will have to become specialist, though I doubt if a specialist could do it all anyway. But if the curriculum is reorganised, then it could continue to be generalist, which I think would facilitate a permeating approach to values and citizenship and other curricular matters. But we can't just go on the way we are," Mr Boyle said.

Stewart Jardine, a consultant, said Scotland could learn about values and citizenship from the state of Maine in the United States which produced a code of conduct based on a set of values, agreed after consultation.

"If you want parents and pupils to buy into what the school believes its values should be, you have to share them and discuss them," Mr Jardine said.

Eileen Low, head of St Catherine's primary, Paisley, argued that authorities should "lay down" what is acceptable and unacceptable, set minimum standards or a core set of values and publicise them.

Sheena Andrew, Ralston primary, said booklets for parents would show that teachers were not acting out of "whims and fancies".

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