Personal interaction is key to CfE success

10th September 2010 at 01:00

I was disappointed to read your report, "Threat to class-size limits" (August 27). I am left wondering whether Michael Russell fully understands his word "realism" as it applies to the inter-personal demands of Curriculum for Excellence, especially in the significant area of Assessment is for Learning.

The new curriculum proposes a participative paradigm where teachers and pupils are invited to engage in active exploration towards pupil self- development in the areas of "head, heart and hand" (thinking, feeling, doing). Underpinning the whole process is the notion that every learner is entitled to personal support.

My belief is that this newness of intention and process, informed by sensitive and skilful teacher support, will challenge pupils to take significant responsibility for their own motivation and learning. Curriculum for Excellence, through its values, process and aims, implies that teachers and pupils will need to relate to each other, and indeed to their peers, in enhanced and closer ways.

Teachers engage with learners as participant observers of ongoing pupil development and motivation, judging when it is appropriate to offer the learner support and feedback within the living process of exploration.

The added demands of AifL are huge in terms of individual pupil-teacher time set aside for reflective review. With so many pupils, especially in the secondary sector, and lack of teacher time, it may well be that teachers are forced by circumstance to revert to pencil and paper feedback at a distance from the pupil.

Curriculum for Excellence will achieve its ideals only through high- quality inter-personal teacher-pupil time; but, sadly, it would seem that, on Michael Russell's scales of "realism", Curriculum for Excellence is judged as not heavy enough.

The most welcome gift the Government could give to teachers is a pupil- teacher ratio of 16:1. Yes I know, pie in the sky - at least for now.

Haydn Davies, retired lecturer, Jordanhill.

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