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GTC opens up debate on 10-14

PUPILS in S1 and S2 lose their motivation because methods of teaching and learning are "uninspiring", not because the content of their new subjects is too difficult, according to Douglas Weir, vice-convener of the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

Professor Weir, former dean of education at Strathclyde University, suggests pupils prefer the learner-centred and active approaches in the upper primary and not the teacher-centred, didactic methods in early secondary.

He believes it is time to consider a new style 10-14 teacher after a political commitment by Jack McConnell, the First Minister, to involve primary teachers in secondaries as one means of improving achievement in S1 and S2.

In a starter paper for the GTC, Professor Weir argues for a "long-overdue" qualification in 10-14 teaching based on the best of primary teacher education.

"If 10-14 education is to be sufficiently innovative to transform the experiences of pupils, then new thinking is required about the methodology, classroom organisation, assessment and feedback of the new course," he states.

Students would need to complete a four-year degree programme, based around a general competence in primary teaching. They would be able to take P6 and P7 classes as well as personal and social development and other cross-curricular aspects of S1 and S2.

They would have a specific competence in "in no more than two subject areas from the 5-14 menu which he or she could teach with confidence across all of P6 to S2".

* Around 2 per cent of the 2,100 probationers involved in the first year of the new induction scheme are failing to make the grade. An interim report shows that 35 in secondary and 23 in primary have not made satisfactory progress.

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