Time to get real in period of uncertainty

30th March 2007 at 01:00
In response to Peter Wright's article on March 16 ("Sleepwalk to disaster?"), I agree there has been a lack of genuine engagement with the profession by those driving A Curriculum for Excellence.

As a result, corridors are rife with hearsay and rumour. Mr Wright's article, riddled with scaremongering and opinion, is just one example of what happens in such an uncertain climate.

I don't believe that what will be presented will be a "content free"

curriculum; neither do I believe that subjects are likely to be "condemned to oblivion". I have seen the science learning outcomes and, though I'm not impressed with the wording and format, there is plenty of subject identity there.

Mr Wright argues that we operate in a "radically different context" these days. I don't believe that. I train secondary teachers, and there is no evidence to suggest that such teaching will not remain the preserve of secondary trained specialists. All trainees remain subject specialists.

Retirements will hit the profession in a significant way over the next decade; but let's not confuse experience with expertise. A new wave of enthusiastic and talented teachers has been entering the profession over the last 10 years and they are perfectly capable of taking a lead and of developing the curriculum in ways that some of the old guard might never have dreamed of. They are also eager to shape the way children are taught according to what we now know about learning and learners.

One way we will sleepwalk into a curriculum disaster would be to plough on, heads buried in the sand, murmuring calls for "minimum change". Another would be for the ACfE group to see the publication of Planet Earth outcomes as an end point. It has to be no more than the end of the beginning.

There is an opportunity for real change, real engagement and real improvement in the way we educate children. The real work must start now.

Bob Kibble

senior lecturer in education, University of Edinburgh

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