Ideals and reality

ON the day the Education Secretary announced that the era of "one size fits all" was over, the Educational Institute of Scotland published survey findings that teachers fear the education of 95 per cent of pupils is being damaged by a small but disruptive minority.

The reality of social inclusion is that teachers feel ill-equipped to cope and unions call urgently for smaller classes, more teachers, more resources and more support. Since the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc Act 2000 led the drive to include the whole range of children with physical, learning and behavioural problems, there has been a perceptible shift towards fragmentation.

Comprehensives are beginning to revert to setting and streaming. Schools are being told they can introduce a more flexible curriculum. And specialist schools are being set up for children gifted in music, dance and sport, though little as yet for the academically gifted. Closing the gap between the haves and have-nots and raising the attainment of all are admirable ideals. But if class teachers have to concentrate on the pupils with most problems at the expense of the rest, middle class parents whose children are essential to the success of comprehensives may well listen to teachers' fears and reluctantly turn their backs on the state sector.

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