Cut the jargon and start talking

7th March 2008 at 00:00
The best way to get to grips with the new curriculum is to stop plastering school walls with "outcomes" and "capacities" and get staff talking, says a teacher on the Curriculum for Excellence engagement team.

Mark Beattie, depute head at Langlands School in Glasgow, admits an aversion to what he describes as the "wallpaper" of Curriculum for Excellence jargon that often appears on school walls.

Mr Beattie told conference delegates that one way he got staff to think about helping children become "effective contributors" or "confident individuals" was to get a big sheet of paper and write down everything they knew about that pupil: "How are they in the classroom? What makes them laugh? What are they like in the dining hall? What do we know about their home life?"

Langlands School is for nursery and primary pupils with special needs, and Mr Beattie finds this approach often works well with children who have the most severe difficulties.

"It's actually a much more positive picture than staff think it's going to be, because it takes them away from the issue of how you manage that child in class," he said.

Mr Beattie explained how every child made an effective contribution to a ceremony marking the opening of the new school building, even if they were not comfortable with the main activities.

One boy on the autistic spectrum did not want to take part in dancing, so he was in charge of a PowerPoint presentation.

A procession featuring a snaking Chinese dragon was not something every child felt up to, so they added to the spectacle by throwing beach balls.

But Mr Beattie said it was crucial to build on these contributions: the same children should not be throwing beach balls in five years' time.

Mr Beattie spoke at the annual conference for Enquire, the Scottish advice service for special needs, in Glasgow last week.

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