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Class teacher idea for S1s who struggle

At Kemnay Academy in Aberdeenshire, headteacher Charlie Hunter hopes to use the advent of A Curriculum for Excellence to justify appointing someone with primary expertise to teach a small class of young pupils with additional needs.

The school's pupil roll is expanding and with that comes a growing number of young pupils with support needs, who are simply not coping with the traditional 5-14 curricular and timetable constraints and the lack of flexibility.

For now, these pupils are being taught by support for learning staff sitting in the various subject classes with them, but Dr Hunter does not consider this to be the most economic use of these teachers' time.

Also, as this model of learning support is still tied to the 5-14 guidelines, the pupils still see more than 10 teachers in the week, which can be confusing for those with additional needs, not to mention demotivating and incoherent.

Along with his depute, Alison Murison, Dr Hunter has developed a proposal to recruit a single co-ordinating teacher, a talented primary teacher who has the professional knowledge and understanding, and skills and abilities in teaching, classroom management and assessment of pupils, to teach a class of no more than 15 pupils a flexible and project-based core curriculum of literacy, numeracy, enterprise, citizenship and health.

The four goals for children in A Curriculum for Excellence - to become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens - would drive the design of the curriculum. The key idea is that it would be relevant, have additional opportunities to make use of the local environment and have increased input from community learning and development.

The teacher would be encouraged to liaise with subject specialists and involve them in the delivery of the curriculum. For practical subjects, such as technical studies, home economics, art, music, personal and social education, information technology, science and physical education, the pupils would join their register class in mixed ability groups.

So far, Dr Hunter's request to Aberdeenshire Council for funding to take on a primary teacher as an additional member of staff has not been successful, but he is determined to find the money to make the appointment for August.

Elizabeth Buie

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