History yes, but what about modern studies?

4th May 2001 at 01:00
I can sympathise with Alexis Scott (TESS, April 27) in her attempts to enable her son to study two social subjects. It is indeed a pity that he cannot "learn the lessons of history" as all school pupils should have the right to do.

Her son, however, is even more disadvantaged than Alexis realises. I deduce from her article that her son was not given the opportunity to learn about Scottish society today. Is modern studies, a central part of the 5-14 curriculum taught in the school? Is it even a choice in S3-S4?

For Alexis's son to play a meaningful part in society, surely he should be taught the context of why we have a new Parliament? How elections are ecided in the Parliament and the roles of his MSPs? It is a shame that he had to choose between history and geography, but at least here he had a choice.

There are around 100 Scottish secondary schools which do not offer modern studies at all. Where it is offered, for obvious reasons the subject is extremely successful.

How important is social exclusion? The scandal of Scottish pupils, often the most economically disadvantaged, being denied the opportunity to learn essential knowledge and skills should be addressed immediately by the Scottish Executive.

John McTaggart Principal teacher of modern studies Boroughmuir High School, Edinburgh

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