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Solving the problem of Secondary 1 and 2;School management

There is a dearth of imaginative thinking about how we can ring the changes in Secondary 1 and 2, but last month's inspectorate's report Achieving Success in S1S2 contained little that is new.

Most secondaries already do rotate minority subjects, and while 18 to 20 teachers over the two years is too many, 12 to 15 is not. And it will not do to continue the upper primary experience into S1-S2. Pupils are ready for the stimulation that the wide variety of secondary subjects and teachers brings.

The real problem is fragmentation of the secondary teacher's responsibilities and the timetable. One solution is to create 5 to 14 specialists dedicated to S1-S2. As well as being subject specialists, they could meet as a team, with time and resources to focus on attainment across the entire curriculum. All secondaries already identify a senior manager for S1-S2 who could oversee such a structure. Senior teachers could supervise non-specialist assessment and reporting, and the transfer of information between primary and secondary.

And why not allocate a part of the secondary school as an S1-S2 area, minimising the time wasted moving around and encouraging a 5-14 ethos? Most S1-S2 classes could be situated away from the subject department, given suitable accommodation and resources.When these changes are embedded, the timetable could allow longer, more flexible periods.

David McMurtry is a lecturer at Northern College, Aberdeen.

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