The opportunities outweigh the criticism
Words and phrases such as "bail out schools", "disaffected youngsters the schools don't want", "problem pupils", "turned off by the traditional curriculum" bear no relationship at all to what Beath High School, in partnership with two local further education colleges, is endeavouring to provide for pupils for whom the traditional curriculum is not suitable.
In the spirit of inclusion and equality of opportunity, we have selected a very small group of S3 pupils who will achieve more if they are given access to a more appropriate vocational strand which only the colleges can provide, such as construction, fabrication and welding, jewellery making, creative technology and care.
The Executive's encouragement of flexibility in the curriculum has now given this group of pupils the opportunity to show what they can do, rather than, as in the past, what they struggle with and then fail to complete.
The Lauder College course on which these pupils will embark in August, following a four-week induction process until the summer holiday, will allow them to sample various vocational areas, preparatory to selecting a single area to specialise in when they go into S4. In the spirit of lifelong learning, it is hoped that these pupils will then be able to complete a full-time college placement with considerably more success than would otherwise have been the case.
While we appreciate that FE college staff have little or no experience of teaching this age group, and support their calls for adequate training and resourcing before such groups are taken on, we feel that the opinions expressed in the article do a serious disservice to the cause of partnership between the sectors, and perhaps even threaten to jeopardise a poten-tially highly rewarding experience for FE staff as well as for the school pupils they agree to teach.
Scott Brady Rector
Morna R Fleming Assistant rector Beath High School Cowdenbeath