Left in the dark on classical studies

21st March 1997 at 00:00
I would like to thank John Kerr for his reply (TESS, March 7) to my article and for the information that Antigone is to be retained for Higher classical studies. I believe this is good news for many classics teachers.

I am interested that he uses the adjectives "uninformed and misleading" to describe my article. In a way he is right of course. I am uninformed about whether the play is retained. I completed the consultation exercise in October and have not been informed about any decisions made by the Higher Still Development Unit though they promised us the outcomes of the consultations by March 1997; now they say it has been put back to May.

Dr Kerr seems to think that I should have found out via the needs analysis briefing session which he addressed in November. The totally inadequate notice for the meeting was highlighted by John Glen, curricular advice manager for Edinburgh Council, who expressed this concern among a number of others.

I took my authority's advice and stayed in school. So am I to blame for being uninformed? I think not, and it would surely have been unwise for me to rely on moles drip-feeding me what turned out to be contradictory information. Which mole should I trust? It seems an unusual way to become informed.

As for the other adjective "misleading", I respect Dr Kerr's sincerity in feeling that the consulting has been "without precedent." So I need to explain why I feel teachers' comments have been ignored. My first written comments in December 1995 highlighted one topic only - Antigone - yet it was not even mentioned in the reply from the development unit.

At the meeting in June I was spokesperson for a group of eight teachers who all wanted Antigone to be retained for Higher. When informed of our collective opinion, Dr Kerr incorrectly stated that Antigone would have been running for six years by August 1998 and replied: "I am very, very strongly opposed to that" That was clear enough; he didn't say "We"; he said "I". This, together with the repetition of the word "very", misled me into thinking that he, as development officer, was not going to change his mind. His predecessor had corroborated this previously.

So I am not misleading anyone by saying that the impression given was that teachers' views were being ignored by the development officer. I am glad I was wrong.

PAUL BAILEY Principal teacher of classics St Augustine's High School, Edinburgh

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