Championing the C word

18th August 2000 at 01:00
FROM the 19th century Kulturkampf to the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum's tortured efforts to pin down Scottish culture (or the culture of Scotland, which is apparently different), politicians and educationists resort to that "c" word at their peril. Now the Culture Minister wants schools to have a "cultural champion" and a pilot scheme is being set up backed by pound;250,000. A designated teacher would have the equivalent of a day a week to encourage pupil exposure to, and involvement in, arts activities.

There are parallel appointments in the shape of sports co-ordinators. But confusingly, "culture" as defined in the Executive's strategy document this week embraces sport. It is also the case that sport is more readily separated from the rest of the school curriculum than ar cultural activities. Presumably, an English teacher would read a play with his Standard grade class, but it would be the alert "cultural champion" who would book the pupils into the local rep's production of it.

The Executive, local authorities and schools face much work before the champions take to the lists. Many teachers would welcome them if their remit was clear but limited. Keeping a record of suitable arts companies and individual performers and practitioners, plus a timetable of forthcoming events in the community, would be useful, as would the designation of a teacher able to make bookings and claim appropriate subsidies, for example, from the Scottish Arts Council.

Many authorities now have such an officer. But let not the cultural champion become a commissar.

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