Curriculum journey begins

11th February 2005 at 00:00
I've been writing to The TES Scotland for too long to rise to Gordon Kirk's bait and get involved in a personal slanging match. In his original article on January 21, Gordon began by referring to his note of reservation to the Munn report and ended by saying he would have written another one to A Curriculum for Excellence. Now, he claims, any reference to the former is ad hominem.

However, the irony is that we are close to agreement on the central tenet of A Curriculum for Excellence which is that there has been, since Munn and Dunning and 5-14, too much central direction of the curriculum. We do indeed need to "get off the backs of schools and teachers," as he says, and trust them to do what Scottish teachers have always been good at - creativity, innovation and flexibility.

The journey towards a curriculum for the 21st century has only just begun and A Curriculum for Excellence was meant to provide a framework. The present curriculum is too rigid, too full, too fragmented and too inflexible.

Parents, from Tasmania or from Scotland, deserve the right to engage with curriculum planners and managers in meaningful discussion about what the school offers.

Provided the principles outlined in A Curriculum for Excellence are reflected in the curriculum on offer, there should be opportunities for local decision-making which are flexible.

The issue of what is "valuable and essential" in the curriculum is one which ought to be discussed with parents, employers, young people and teachers. It may not be easy to reach agreement but the four purposes of A Curriculum for Excellence are, I believe, a good starting point.

Brian Boyd University of Strathclyde

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