New curriculum is 'misguided'

11th September 2009 at 01:00

Once again, Brian Boyd breaks into his retirement to expound the virtues of A Curriculum for Excellence (TESS August 28). Once more, we have an article singing the praises of ACfE and the need to do more (Keir Bloomer, in the same issue).

May I suggest that the whole venture is misguided? The problems in Scottish schools stem not from the fact that the curriculum is inadequate or unsuited to the needs of individuals, but from the fact that people like Boyd and Bloomer diminished schools' abilities to deal with disciplinary problems a decade or so back.

Their forerunners - the "experts" of the 1990s who, safe from their vantage point in an office or in a teacher training institute, miles away from any practical experience with children - suggested that exclusion, and other forms of punishment, were bad ("exclusion from school is the beginning of exclusion from society" I think was their motto). It was to be seen somehow as a failure on the schools' part, an attitude that survives to this day: witness the appeal generated by such statements as "pupil exclusions . are down by 41 per cent" in Glasgow.

This tendency by people who walk away from the classroom, and those who want to climb up the promotional ladder in education (a journey only possible if one embraces all these changes) to influence and decide educational policy, is what turned a once great education system into what it is today.

I suggest that, instead of indulging these people further, it is time to return to what was once good about Scottish education. The system is failing some people not because what we are teaching them is inadequate, but because the measures we once had in place to deal with offenders have been eroded.

As a teacher, I see no value in spending time filling in forms with outcomes and experiences. This will not benefit a single child that I teach, merely provide further justification for the jobs of Boyd, Bloomer et al.

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