Ewan Hunter, chief executive of the Hunter Foundation, said the notion of pupils taking on learning for themselves, learning co-operatively, problem-solving and therefore building up their confidence was not "rocket science".
The critical skills approach was very similar to that taken in the schools enterprise programme and was something good teachers would be adopting anyway, Mr Hunter said. But it was "extraordinarily expensive" at present and he cited a 75-teacher Ayrshire secondary he had visited where eight teachers had been through the basic six-day course, at a cost of pound;1,000 each (plus VAT and around pound;100 a day in supply cover).
Mr Hunter called for more research on the effectiveness of critical skills teaching. If it is shown to be making a significant impact on pupils'
attainment, he suggests it should be part of initial teacher education.
The Hunter Foundation is helping to fund a pound;2.7 million teacher education initiative over three years along with Aberdeen University and the Scottish Executive, to develop new approaches in training primary teachers (TESS, June 25, 2004).
Mr Hunter said after the conference that he would consider holding discussions with the partners on whether critical skills should be an ingredient.