Stirling prepares secondary overhaul

25th June 1999 at 01:00
PUPILS in the first two years of secondary will no longer be able waste up to 25 minutes a day or two-and-a-half hours a week walking between classes if a radically slimmed down curriculum proposed by Stirling receives support.

The council says it wants - within a year - to introduce team teaching and team working for pupils, and ensure core skills are taught by a range of staff. Local research showed pupils faced between 18 and 22 teachers a week in their first two years.

The authority was the first to establish a children's service and is the latest to propose imaginative, pupil-centred solutions to the problems of fragmentation and under-achievement in S1 and S2.

North Lanarkshire recently proposed stronger curriculum links between upper primary and the first year of secondary and moving Standard grade into S2. It wants to scrap the mixed ability common course. Stirling takes a different line by focusing less on structure and more on pupils in draft proposals now with schools.

It states: "The emphasis on S1S2 should be on 'learning to learn' in the broadest sense, beyond subject specialisms. All staff teaching S1 and S2 stage should develop expertise in the core skills to ensure that each teacher is perceived as a generalist and a specialist."

Margaret Doran, head of services to schools, said: "We've had a model of schooling that's been going for over 100 years and it's never been questioned. I would like to give children and staff an opportunity to reflect on their S1S2 experiences."

In what is bound to be a challenge to traditional structures and attitudes, Stirling wants pupils or "stakeholders", as they are called in the draft, to be involved in decisions about their learning.

The council backs the use of self-assessment diaries, an adaptation of commercial homework diaries, and personal learning plans completed by pupils.

More contentiously, pupils making subject choices in S2 could be given information about the quality of courses and departments and the name of the teacher they could expect. One school is already implementing such a strategy.

A key element in the more consumerist model will be circle time at least once a week during registration. All staff in two secondaries have already been trained.

Pupils will be able to reflect on their school experiences with their peers while registration teachers act as their mentors. Staff from guidance and support for learning could join other promoted teachers in a team approach.

In a further move to strengthen pupils' commitment, Stirling wants its schools to offer a variety of out-of-school experiences and will offer guidance in the autumn on citizenship and children's entitlement to active participation. The authority wants schools to recognise they are preparing children not for a "job for life" but a "life of jobs". They should stress the "interconnectedness" of knowledge, experiences and lifeskills. Personal and social development would lose its separate subject status, according to the authority.

Stirling recognises staff development in core skills teaching and leadership will be important.

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