Councils slam curriculum guidelines

COUNCILS ARE lining up to criticise proposed guidelines for the secondary curriculum as no more than a rehash of existing structures that fails to meet the changing needs of schools.

East Ayrshire has accused the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum, which advises the Government, of having "no major vision". Its opinion is shared by Renfrewshire which expresses "disappointment" that the proposed guidelines offer little beyond the status quo.

East Ayrshire says Curriculum Design for the Secondary Stages - guidelines for schools dwells on the past, rather than looking to the "skills-knowledge base" of the 21st century, and tries to "consolidate existing practice rather than break new ground".

The council concedes the plan helps to redefine some areas of the curriculum but says there is no mention of special educational needs, little recognition of pupils' experiences in primary and scant regard for alternative provision.

It does highlight education-industry links but fails to give equal attention to residential experiences, outdoor education or community-based education, East Ayrshire adds.

"The opportunity is lost to provide guidance on the balance between traditional and modern skill areas," it says.

East Ayrshire, however, welcomes the document's emphasis on breadth and balance, "long identified as quality features of Scottish curricular provision".

Renfrewshire says curriculum design has remained unaltered since 1989 and states: "The framework continues to be premised on the subject-based curriculum which provides constraint to both learners and managers.

"While recognising that there are major logistical implications in moving from the present structure, there is little within the paper which gives authorities and headteachers room for manoeuvre. In particular, the construct of S1 and S2 remains largely unaltered and this is in conflict with the needs of many learners at these stages."

It adds: "Radical solutions to the structure and organisation of S1-S2 have implications for the deployment of staff and the priority given to S4-S6 in many schools."

Renfrewshire says HMI's report on the first two years called for radical change but the guidelines appear to ignore the plea.

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