Teacher variety adds spice

5th May 2000 at 01:00
THE campaign to reduce the number of teachers that secondary pupils come into contact with in their first two years has received a setback from the consumers - at least in North Lanarkshire.

A report to the council's education committee reveals that in a "best value" review of key aspects of the secondary curriculum and school timetable, more than 90 per cent of first and second years said they enjoyed the variety of teachers.

But 50 per cent of the second year said they had not enjoyed taking the same subjects for two years.

Michael O'Neill, the director of education, said pupils appear to make up their minds what they want to study by the end of first year. "This vindicates our position that schools should be able to embark on a Standard grade course in second year rather than forcing pupils to wait until third year," Mr O'Neill said.

The survey also canvassed the views of parents. Three-quarters would like to be better informed about their child's timetable. A majority of pupils from S3 to S5 said their final choice of subjects contained a subject that they would rather not have take.

The authority has responded to the review by preparing an action plan to be completed by the end of this year. Guidelines will be issued on curriculum planning and timetabling so that schools can "enhance the efficiency" of the structures currently in place. They will be told to reduce timetabling "inefficiencies" and to consult parents on the nature and quality of the information they may need.

This was one of four reviews carried out by North Lanarkshire's education department in line with the Government's requirement that all council services must demonstrate value for money.

Another of the reviews identified "a wide disparity" in how primary schools deployed promoted staff. As a result, the authority plans to cut down on the class teaching load of promoted staff and the class commitment of heads is also to be reduced, particularly in small schools.

The other two reviews concentrated on the administrative workload of school staff, which will be the subject of a report next month, and on the quality of staff development for class teachers, which won praise from officials.

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