Meet four conditions, say teachers

The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association has called for a moratorium on implementing A Curriculum for Excellence until four key conditions are met.

In echoes of the controversies which dogged the introduction of Standard grade and Higher Still, the union's council, which met at the weekend, called for proper analysis of trialling projects; the central development of teaching materials where required; proper planning of inter- disciplinary projects; and decisions to be made about the future exam structure before starting to implement courses.

Jim Doherty, depute general secretary of the SSTA, said his members were not prepared to go forward with "half-baked or half-funded proposals". If the four conditions were not met, he anticipated SSTA members would refuse to support and endorse the new curriculum. "While I would not see this as the sort of thing that would lead to strike action, it would be impossible to take forward A Curriculum for Excellence without teachers' support."

SSTA council members expressed concern about the impact of the short timescale for the publication of the revised "outcomes and experiences", a lack of timetabling models, and cuts in continuing professional development in many authorities. Ann Ballinger, SSTA president, described as "a backward step" plans to turn the first three years of secondary education into a period of "general education", not subject to national assessment arrangements.

This would mean, she warned, that pupils would have only S4 for the initial study of the proposed "general" qualification replacing Standard grade and Intermediate 1 and 2. An additional concern was that only five subjects could be studied in S4. "The traditional strength of the Scottish education system in its breadth in the middle stages of secondary is being lost," she said.

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