A clear need to break the code

28th April 2000 at 01:00
LIKE a black sheep in the family, the Schools Code is being interred (page four) without the recognition due to one of the great survivors in Scottish education. Born in 1956 before many of the leaders of today's profession were old enough to benefit from its provisions even about nurseries, it has not quite attained the status and longevity of the codes that bear the names of Justinian and Napoleon.

But it is assumed to contain arcana revealed only to those who leave the classroom for the sacred groves of administration. Though not sought as ardently as the holy grail, it is almost as elusive, for few possess a copy, certainly not with its reams of emendations - another reason why it has mystic cult status.

It should be given a decet burial for it has had its day. Schools do not need to be governed by formal, inhibitory regulations. They are or should be much more self-governing than in the 1950s. Education authorities, for whom the code was gospel, are nowadays meant to interfere less. They are charged with originating ideas, setting a tone rather than following a code.

Schools and teachers are not short of regulations where they are needed, and often where they are not. The Executive in its inclusive mode ("What would you, the people, like?") has asked a lot of questions about what to do with the nitty-gritty of the code. The current education Bill and the McCrone report in the offing should provide some of the answers, whose language need not be coded.


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