Committed to the classics

7th March 1997 at 00:00
As development officer for classical studies, I must respond to Paul Bailey's article, "Who's playing Creon with classical studies?" (TESS, February 21). Although obviously from the heart, it is deeply uninformed and misleading.

There is no "king" of classical studies or of any other subject in the Higher Still programme. Final responsibility for the contents of all documents in each subject area rests with a specialist group. In the case of classical studies this comprises a number of practising teachers, representatives from the Scottish Examination Board and Scotvec, an HMI and a headteacher as chair.

The classical studies group is, in large measure, the same as the working party which produced the Higher classical studies, which Mr Bailey describes as "splendid". The decision to consult the profession on the feasibility of moving Antigone from Higher level to Intermediate level was taken after long consideration and for a number of reasons.

At the first event in the consultative process, the national seminar held in June 1996, Mr Bailey was loud in his condemnation of any changes in any part of the drama prescription at Higher level and then, as in his article, claimed universal support for his view. This was not borne out by the written responses.

Only a small minority of respondents favoured no change at all. However, a much larger minority argued for the retention of Antigone, largely on the grounds of cost and continuity.

Since the specialist group was keen to move forward on the basis of consensus, it was agree to retain Antigone at Higher level. I indicated this to the needs analysis and national trainer briefing groups in early November and, indeed, the revised arrangements had been passed to the Higher Still Unit for printing before the publication of the article.

The Higher Still programme is not without its faults. I would align myself with those who argue that the programme would benefit from the fuller professional consideration that a year's delay would allow.

It is, however, undeniable that it has undertaken a level of consultation quite without precedent in Scottish education history. The Higher Still Unit and specialist groups are committed to take on board different viewpoints, consider them carefully and, where appropriate, act on them.

This case seems to me proof of that commitment.

(Dr) JOHN KERR Assistant headteacher Lanark Grammar School Albany Drive Lanark

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