Beyond subject boundaries;Opinion

14th August 1998 at 01:00
The first set of secondary guidelines in 1989, the so-called "yellow peril", was addressed to headteachers. The revision now in draft form (page three) is for "schools". Has there been a culture change, a liberalisation of power structures?

Probably not, more of a realisation, expressed in many documents from the Inspectorate and the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum, which publishes the guidelines, that emphasis on ethos and quality has to appeal to all staff and cannot be imposed. None the less it will be heads who are most likely to turn the pages of the draft paper over the next few weeks. They may have more time, or at least feel more obligation, than classroom teachers wrestling with the challenges of a new session.

What young people should learn in secondary rather than how they are grouped or streamed to do so is at the heart of the paper. But so prolific is the education system in producing initiatives and advice that there is little new to say in the guidelines. From 5-14 to Higher Still we are on familiar territory, with only an occasional tweak to terminology. Environmental studies metamorphose into "science, technology and society".

The aim is a "holistic" curriculum. History, geography and modern studies are not individually mentioned except in the appendices. But subject boundaries and departmental self-protection will stand in the way of aspirations, even if these meet with approval in principle.

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