David Henderson reports on the political pledges made to the Association of Head Teachers at Dunblane. The 5-14 programme is a "cop-out" that has done nothing to narrow the divide between primary and secondary school, Keir Bloomer, director of education and community services in Clackmannan, declared.
Mr Bloomer said: "If we are going to grasp the issues of keeping children, especially those not well supported by their family and not well motivated, in meaningful contact with education over that transition and into the middle ages of secondary education, we are going to have to look at this an awful lot more seriously and radically than we do just now."
The curriculum in the first two years of secondary school was "uniquely fragmented" largely because of vested interests among teachers, he said. Whatever its advantages, the programme was not set up to help children over a difficult stage of development and was far removed from its doomed forerunner, the 10-14 programme.
Scotland was no longer at the "cutting edge of educational advancement", Mr Bloomer warned, in spite of progress in many areas. Provision for science and technology was inadequate in primaries and there was little progression into secondary.
Challenging other conventional beliefs, he argued that the emphasis in primaries on modern language learning was misplaced because teacher training did not have a compulsory element of language learning and English was the dominant world language. "It is little more than a fig-leaf for the Government's determination to appear like good Europeans, now probably a thing of the past," he stated.
Mr Bloomer also warned that parents were being deluged with "assessment-speak gibberish, incomprehensible to all"