All change except the last stop

12th December 2008 at 00:00

I was volunteered last week to attend a course on A Curriculum for Excellence in secondary schools. Heads and principal teachers, and even some education officers venturing out from the dark zones of council offices, met together to share the innovations and opportunities of ACfE.

One workshop saw Frank Crawford of HMIE petitioning monumental changes in teaching approaches, a move from the 20th-century classroom to the 21st. "Interactive" lessons were to be replaced with "participative" ones, subjects were to be replaced by projects and a "stable" lesson was to become an "agile" one.

While most of the audience tried to appear positive about the need for change, Mr Crawford told us that, despite all the radical changes he wanted to see, Higher courses were to remain.

Is it just me, or does that not seem rather half-hearted? All the foundations of our education system are to be changed except the end point, the Higher. Why?

In 1999, I taught in Canada for a year. None of my pupils sat a national exam; all assessment was left to me (even for the university-bound pupils). I could interpret the courses as I wished and assess them as I thought suitable. That was in the 20th century!

The politicians and education gurus hoping to bring about a 21st-century change in Scottish education need to open their minds to a fundamental change in all aspects of our education system, not just 3-15.

Andy Tomison, principal teacher of mathematics, The Community School of Auchterarder.

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