They may be boring, but are universally understood

1st May 2009 at 01:00

I have followed the debate on subject teaching in relation to A Curriculum for Excellence with great interest, but increasing confusion. This was increased when I read that, under ACfE, there are five areas in science: planet earth; forces, electricity and wave; biological systems; materials; topical science.

Does this mean that youngsters will get qualifications in "Planet Earth" and so on and, if so, will these qualifications be understood by employers, colleges and universities? Indeed, which of these areas will be the best training for an engineer?

If the answer is that colleges and so on will simply have to adjust their own courses and understanding to take account of the new alignment within ACfE, how will this requirement be imposed on non-Scottish institutions and employers, or will ACfE mean that Scottish pupils are only fit for Scottish furtherhigher education institutions and employment?

Conversely, if Scottish colleges and universities adjust to ACfE, will they any longer be able to admit students from outwith Scotland who are still taught in those boring, but almost universally understood, subject areas of physicschemistrybiology?

However, if even Scottish qualifications are still being taken in these boring old subjects, how will pupils know which to choose when they have studied Planet Earth et al? How will they disaggregate the compounds?

It is fine for Jaye Richards to explain her commendably diverse career to date (TESS April 17), but she does not mention building a bridge or designing a safe helicopter among her previous achievements. Knowledge matters, and anyone who thinks otherwise had better not venture across any newly-built bridge in some 20 years' time.

Judith Gillespie, development manager, Scottish Parent Teacher Council, George Street, Edinburgh.

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