Phoenix flight for specialists

9th July 2004 at 01:00
Many a rueful comment might be expected from the revelation that primary schools across the land are revisiting the virtues of visiting specialist teachers. The neglect of physical education, music, art and drama has been one of the legacies of the relentless cutbacks education authorities faced throughout most of the 1980s and 1990s. Along with budgets for school repairs and maintenance, they were a soft touch for hard finance as local government juggled the demands of central government, council taxpayers and educational wisdom.

Now, specialisms are to have their place in the primary school sun once again, it seems. No doubt the expressive arts are being valued for their own sake. But it does not always seem so. Growing evidence that they boosted pupils' confidence and motivation has been a powerful argument for an Executive keen to seize on any vehicle which has the capacity to boost school performance, whether on the school stage or the exam hall.

The latest support for visiting specialists also comes indirectly from the need to fill pupils' time as their primary class teachers have their contact time reduced (page five). These developments may represent no more than a means to an end, but better that than no recognition at all.

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