Joining up 10 and 14

14th January 2000 at 00:00
MUCH OF the new thinking in Scottish education is being done by local authorities - from North Lanarkshire's suggested overhaul of the secondary curriculum to Argyll's thoughts on the hours pupils should be in school. At a time when central government restricts innovation to tighter monitoring of schools and teachers, the willingness of councils to throw ideas into the melting pot is welcome.

But the Educational Institute's critique of the North Lanarkshire proposals shows the limitations of such inventiveness. The nature of the secondary school and the timing of Standard grade exams cannot be changed in one area alone. A national system of courses and qualifications needs national decisions. That is not to say that ideas have to be the monopoly of ministers or inspectors. They can be generated at local level, by teacher unions, parents' organisations or individual educationists. To that extent the cerebral activity in council offices is to be encouraged.

The EIS believes that North Lanarkshire has not thought through its proposals. Moving the Standard grade years would hae repercussions back into the primary, and if the council's argument for change is based on the inadequacy of Standard grade as an exam, then shuffling it around the secondary years would solve nothing.

But the kernel of the EIS case is that national curriculum planning has produced courses for areas of education such as 5-14. Making that 5-13 would impose fresh burdens on teachers. So whatever the arguments for change, they cannot be advanced authority by authority.

The council's proposals and the union's riposte show that fresh attention is being given to the 10-14 age-group. Brian Boyd argued in The TES Scotland last week that improving primary-secondary liaison and reducing the number of S1 subjects would not be enough to tackle the problems of underachievement in lower secondary. It is more than a decade since the 10-14 committee's report was rejected. Revisiting it would have to be in the context of 5-14 planning and would have to be undertaken nationally. But directors of education are well placed to pinpoint problems and think the apparently unthinkable.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today