The CCC's own goal

3rd July 1998 at 01:00
Suppression by the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum of a report which it itself instigated tells more about the state of the council than it does about the contents. Few teachers would dissent from the argument that pupils gain if their learning is grounded in the environment and culture of their own country, and region within it. The report is not narrowly nationalistic. Pupils need to know of Scotland's place in the UK, Europe and the wider world and there are areas of the curriculum - mathematics and the sciences, for example - where a cultural dimension is necessarily subsidiary.

The Scottish CCC is under review, as are other public bodies in the run-up to the parliament. But to exhibit pusillanimity in the face of the review and to reject a report that specifically wants young people to learn to debate and challenge orthodoxy is the worst possible defence of its role. One can see at work amateurish second-guessing of what the minister might say. Brian Wilson is a fervent opponent of the Scottish National Party and remains sceptical about devolution; so what would he think about a report that emphasises Scottishness? But wait a minute: the report also highlights the importance of Gaelic culture, which would surely appeal to the minister for Gaelic.

The council says it needs time to revise the report. But it has already been redrafted at least once. Aspects that Michael Baughan, the chief executive, says need emphasised - sustainable development, active citizenship, the inclusive nature of our society - feature in its recommendations. He recites the mantra of new Labour's feel-good educational policies to cover embarrassment. Did council members not realise that the inevitable revelation of the report's contents would render censorship ineffective and make them look fools?

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