Let some teachers teach only S1-3

13th March 2009 at 00:00

More than 12 years ago, HM inspectors of schools issued the document Achieving Success in S1S2. A Curriculum for Excellence again visits this troublesome area, as noted in Building the Curriculum 3.

"The experiences and outcomes will lead to young people reaching, by the end of S3, a level of attainment and achievement deeper and more secure than at present," it states.

Many teachers at this time of year will be concentrating, due to pressure of time, form-filling and expectations, on the demands of the national exams. Any teacher of the senior year groups will be feeling the pressure to get materials ready for the "bag and tag" date set by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Folios, dissertations and form-filling rule their lives. Even after the Easter break, the demands of the national exams will rule as finishing touches are put to exam preparation.

Meanwhile, pupils in S1-3 will, by necessity, find themselves on the back burner even with the best-prepared teacher. How many English teachers are trying to get the folio pieces from all their S4s? How many have to admit that the junior classes suffer at this time of the year as they plough through another set of answers to past papers?

Should we look seriously at the idea of teachers who only teach S1-3 pupils? Removed from the pressures, many of which are administrative, of national exam preparation, the S1-3 teacher will be free to concentrate on a curriculum aimed at younger pupils throughout the school year.

Only with some radical moves will the new curriculum really overcome the problems set out in the 1997 publication.

James Waugh, Nether Currie Crescent, Edinburgh.

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