Interview hit the spot on CfE

14th September 2012 at 01:00

In last week's interview, Lindsay Paterson hits several nails directly on their heads. Like him, few can disagree with the principles of Curriculum for Excellence, but we are now seeing a number of unintended consequences due to the manner of its implementation. Indeed, evidence to support his views can be found elsewhere in the same edition.

On page 5, decreased uptake of modern languages is blamed on the removal of curriculum guidelines allowing pupils to drop languages earlier than before. It is no surprise that pupils will drop subjects they perceive as "hard", even although their study would be beneficial to the future life chances of the individual and the well-being of the Scottish economy.

On page 7, there is a call to boost the maths skills of primary teachers. This situation will only worsen if prospective teachers are allowed to drop such a core subject at 15, especially when pupils may be restricted to studying as few as six subjects in S4. I find it difficult to see how prospective primary teachers can get a sound basis in languages, maths, science and other important areas of the curriculum. This will place a tall order on the new teaching degrees (pages 12-15).

All this seems perverse at a time when Scotland is looking to enhance its Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) related industries in an international marketplace. Many countries are planning to extend the compulsory study of maths to age 18 and some already require it.

Many teenagers may not wish to tread the path they perceive as more difficult, but it should be the duty of the education system to ensure they persevere with what is good for them. An unintended consequence of CfE is for pupils, perhaps especially from the least supportive backgrounds, to drop early the subjects they and we as a nation require.

Stuart Farmer, head of physics, Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen.

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