Cautious approach to change

10th February 2012 at 00:00

I take exception to the comment attributed to Larry Flanagan that "Those schools and authorities who are favouring a 2+2+2 structure. are effectively abandoning CfE." (TESS, 3 February).

Schools, authorities and individual teachers have: worked hard to develop the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence in young people; embraced improvements to teaching methodologies; introduced valuable inter- disciplinary learning opportunities; spent countless hours getting to grips with new Es and Os and are preparing for the introduction of the new National qualifications.

Schools that are choosing to stick with the 2+2+2 curriculum meantime - and there are many of them - are doing so out of a genuine concern for their pupils; a cautious approach to change they know will work. This does not mean that they are not signed up to the principles of CfE.

Building the Curriculum 5 stated that "Schools and colleges will have the flexibility to deliver 1 or 2-year programmes of learning to meet their learners' needs." Why then are authorities and schools being pilloried for electing to do just that?

Introducing a curriculum structure where pupils follow only five subjects in S4 will restrict choice for S5 and beyond; it will wipe out minority subjects from the senior phase and it will put pressure on the balance of staffing at a time when staffing reductions are having a detrimental effect on the capacity of schools to be flexible.

If the move to a 3+3 structure was to be a pre-requisite for the implementation of CfE, why was this not explicit at the outset? If it had been, we would not see the disparity of provision and the fragmentation of our education system that now seems inevitable as different schools and authorities choose different paths.

Dr Bill Maxwell, chief executive of Education Scotland and chair of the CfE Implementation Group, has written to directors of education declaring that "some emerging patterns of coursesubject choice in S1 to S3 are unlikely to allow young people to experience the broad general education as intended. The design of the curriculum during S1-S3 must enable all young people to experience all of the Es and Os up to and including the third curriculum level."

It would seem, therefore, that the 3+3 structure is now a fait accompli, but that does not mean that everybody sees it as the best way forward.

Mr Flanagan would do well to remember that many of those teachers and headteachers who are choosing to stick with a 2+2+2 curriculum structure are EIS members who have not been convinced that it is right to change at this stage. Many are also teachers of subjects that are likely to go into decline, or disappear altogether from the curriculum map.

Jim Sutherland, Old Railway Goods Yard, Ballachulish.

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