Making the early years count

I am sure many classroom teachers' hearts jumped for joy on reading (TESS, September 26) of the decision by one Scottish local authority to re-evaluate the time allocated to environmental studies in favour of a more generous settlement for language and maths. This is a step forward for education in this country and could be of greater significance if it leads to a review of the content of environmental studies courses, which are mainly topic based, in favour of a more subject-oriented approach under which history, science and geography would be taught as academic disciplines in their own right.

The maddening point of this whole venture is that the educational establishment swallowed this "environmental road show" with little criticism.

However, in the short term we must hope more education authorities understand that a greater emphasis on language and number skills in early primary years (P1-P5) would equip pupils to profit more from a wider curriculum in the upper primary and S1-S2. Critics may claim that the clock cannot be turned back, but it is obvious that a bus which is careering down a rocky road towards a sharp precipice could do worse that stop and turn around.

We may not know what will come from this proposed change but surely it is a cause for optimism that a cause dear to the hearts of many teachers has at last been recognised at an official level.

LEONARD FRANCHI

Queens Way Alexandria Dunbartonshire

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