Elitist proposals restrict path to fairness

4th June 2010 at 01:00

I am deeply concerned about the proposals put forward by the Scottish Qualifications Authority group reviewing the development of new Curriculum for Excellence courses.

These relate to classical studies and Latin. An internal review group at the SQA has proposed that, contrary to the views expressed by many teachers of social studies and foreign languages, both subjects should be dropped at Access 3 and National 4 but developed at National 5 and Higher.

This means there will be no discrete progression in classical studies and Latin for many pupils from S1-3. As a consequence, those pupils of lower ability, who study classical studies especially, will be denied the opportunity to progress in this subject, in contrast to their higher- ability peers who will be able to take classical studies at National 5.

This has the potential to exacerbate divisions within schools and heighten differences in the breadth of curricular opportunities available in the state and private sectors. This cannot be intentional?

What has happened to the much-vaunted qualities of personalisation and choice? I respectfully suggest that these are principles which should not be casually overlooked. These proposals can only lead to less choice in those schools where substantial numbers of lower-ability pupils take classical studies at General and Foundation levels.

Under these proposals, classical studies pupils will be offered a progression of sorts, in that it was belatedly suggested that a new award in social subjects at Access 3 and National 4 might be delivered through classical studies. What this will mean in practice is that pupils who choose history will get an award in history, and similarly with geography and modern studies. But pupils opting for classical studies will be given an award in social subjects. Does the SQA really think that pupils and their parents will, under this arrangement, continue to opt for classical studies?

This elitist nonsense needs to be challenged. It is a regression to past inequality, rather than a pathway to future fairness.

John Kerr, Albany Drive, Lanark.

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