The extra dimension

11th June 2004 at 01:00
An education initiative does not often notch up such an impressive string of accomplishments. It helps the ethos of the school, improves teachers'

relations with their pupils, benefits relations among pupils, gives youngsters skills to form relationships, instils confidence, creativity, leadership and self-reliance in young people, raises achievement, promotes teamwork, allows teachers to treat pupils as adults, enables teachers to enjoy the company of kids and enhances teachers' commitment to their job.

This is not a new initiative; indeed it is not an initiative at all. These are all regarded as outcomes of extra-curricular activities, by both the state and the independent school sector (Scotland Plus, pages 2-3), yet such positive features are poorly acknowledged and even more poorly rewarded. The state of play, or not as the case may be, is commonly attributed to the fallout from the 1984-86 teachers' dispute. But there are other issues too: the increasingly formal requirements of schools and the financial difficulties many face in supporting a range of extra-curricular activities. The suggestion that extra-curricular efforts should count towards chartered teacher status is certainly worth considering.

The fact is that many of the essential ingredients often suggested for the curriculum, such as encouraging in pupils a commitment to learning, respect for others and a sense of social responsibility, could equally be regarded as among the benefits of extra-curricular activities. The Executive's review of the curriculum will therefore be only half-baked if its recipe is not extended to that additional dimension.

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