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An open debate;Letter;News amp; Opinion

DAVID HENDERSON'S reference, in his reports from the secondary headteachers' conference (November 26), to my views on incompetence, exhausted teachers, and specialist subject dominance of the secondary curriculum are entirely accurate. In hoping such views can stimulate an open and reflective debate, it may be helpful if I place the reported observations in a wider context.

My contribution was entitled "In search of excellence: the local authority contribution", and my presentation began with an emphasis on the fact that the significant developments which had taken place in Perth and Kinross in the last four years had been the work of "hundreds, indeed thousands of staff". This hopefully emphasises the significant and vital contribution made by the vast majority of staff and the positive celebration of success which allows for further self-evaluation and reflection.

With reference to the curriculum, I offered the observation that it was vital that young people in our schools learn the skills they require for the next century, rather than what we as adults learned at school and university. I believe that this is an essential feature of the debate that is required on the currently dysfunctional secondary curriculum. It challenges all of us in education to recognise and endorse the view that schools are primarily for young people and that the curriculum is more than an amalgam of disparate specialist syllabuses.

Bob McKay Director of education Perth and Kinross

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