Home economics teachers need to "sell" their subject better to pupils, the Inspectorate has reported. HMIs, like many teachers, are concerned that home economics is losing its direction and appeal.
Following visits to 150 schools over 10 years, the Inspectorate concludes: "Too many principal teachers do not take full account of the importance of good communication outwith their departments, with damaging consequences for prestige, uptake of courses and opportunities for pupils."
In particular, schools need to ensure that courses, which are increasingly technology based, have an equal appeal to boys and girls. Pointing out that the technological objectives that appear in lessons have not yet found their way into course design or pupil assessment, the inspectors say little progress has been made in attracting boys to the subject at Standard grade or Higher.
A chart shows that in 1983, 1987 and 1991 a constant 27-28 per cent of pupils in Standard grade classes were boys. A "predominantly female teaching force is far from ideal", the HMIs state, and they call urgently for more men recruits.
Total numbers choosing home economics in the middle and upper secondary are on the rise again "after a significant drop in the early 1990s". The decision two years ago to admit home economics as a qualifying subject for entry to higher education is given as a reason, as are improvements in the Higher pass rate since 1991.
Although the report notes that Higher presentations increased in 1995, only two years previously more than two-thirds of schools made no presentations and only one school in the country had put forward more than nine pupils.
Schools are increasingly offering fewer than the 80 minutes a week recommended by the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum in the first two years of secondary. "Short blocks of time, of 40-60 minutes, impair the coherence and relevance of the learning experience," they warn.