Told you so

11th February 2000 at 00:00
WHILE welcoming the genuine concerns outlined so forthrightly by Doreen Thomson on Higher Still English (TESS, February 4), I am surprised she is not aware of the campaign of analytical criticism carried out by the Scottish Association of Teachers of Language and Literature and its predecessor over the past two and a half years.

The problems she indicates are among those which we predicted would arise : seriously inadequate in-service, an impractical and undesirable unitary framework imposed on all subjects and all pupils, chronic over-assessment which destroys genuine educational activity and worth, increased pupil stress for a devalued certificate, paucity and povert of materials, etc etc. It gives us no pleasure to see our predictions fulfilled.

Where I believe she is mistaken is in thinking that her pupils are bound to fail. That is not what Higher Still is for. Its purpose is to create the illusion that more and more pupils are 'passing' at higher and higher levels.

It is not only teachers of English who should be shouting foul but everyone who knows that genuine educational values (not the training values embodied in Higher Still) are at the source and in the aspirations of a decent society.

Tony McManus

Scottish Association of Teachers of Language and Literature

23 Buckstone Crescent, Edinburgh

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