Limited approach

3rd November 2000 at 00:00
IT WAS with a mixture of delight and dismay that I read your report "A fast track that adds up" (ScotlandPlus, October 20) on the fast track Standard grade maths project at Firrhill High School in Edinburgh. Delight that the project is going ahead and is greatly appreciated by the pupils, senior staff and maths teachers, but dismay that it is so limited.

This new approach to allow all pupils to fulfil their potential by eliminating repetition in the early stages of secondary and freeing up extra time in the later years is precisely the type of innovative scheme that Scottish Conservatives have been requesting for some years.

It is also the method adopted by a number of schools in the independent sector to ensure that pupils with the ability to do so are taught towards Higher qualifications from the start of secondary school. This type of system should not be allowed to remain the preserve of the privileged few who can afford ndependent education.

At the City of Edinburgh Council's education executive meeting, it became clear from questioning that Pat Cairns, the headteacher at Firrhill, would have liked to have seen the project extended to other subject areas.

However, the Educational Institute of Scotland representative on the council executive argued that any new programme of teaching should only be taken forward as a national pilot and cast doubt on the value of the whole project.

I understand that a wider project seems to be blocked by this EIS orthodoxy. Would the project not have had much greater impact if it was taken forward across more subjects?

I applaud the work that Firrhill High School is doing and will strongly support the extension of this valuable pilot when the matter comes before the council executive again next year.

Iain Whyte

Conservative group education

spokesman, City of Edinburgh Council

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