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A place in the sun for arts and sport

FOR two days educators debate what Scotland has to learn (page four) from the attention given to the expressive arts in the internationally acclaimed nurseries of Reggio Emilia in Italy. In the Parliament, Karen Gillon publishes her one-woman inquiry into school sport (page six). The link is the struggle for the arts and sport to establish and maintain a place in schools where the curriculum imposes a regimen of "more essential" ingredients.

The younger the child the less of a problem: at nursery level much of the experience comes through the arts because pre-school children are encouraged to be creative, and our nationally recommended curriculum paves the way for outcomes as exciting as those found among the young children of Reggio Emilia. By even the top of the primary school the arts get squeezed - athough Ian Barr, of Learning and Teaching Scotland, made the point that not all artistic involvement has to come in the hours of the week blocked off for the "expressive arts". His aspiration, however, is still harder to realise in the exam-ridden secondary.

Sport, too, has to fight for a place in the sun. Facilities and teacher expertise may be lacking. Time certainly is, and increasingly so for teenagers burdened by homework and part-time jobs. Ms Gillon pointed up another problem shared with the arts - the tension between providing for the many and stimulating the gifted minority who need extra time and specialist help. The country wants arts and athletics for all, but would also like more representatives at Sydney's Olympics and in its opera house. Schools are left to confront the dilemma.

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