Toddlers take their first snatch at a wage packet

John Cairney reports from Glasgow on why getting a life means gettinga living

SCOTTISH three-year-olds will be soon be preparing for the world of work as a Glasgow-based project is rolled out to the rest of the country.

At the national launch of "Learning for Living and Earning" at Lochend Community High in the city, an audience composed of some of the great and the good in education watched appreciatively as children from Glasgow's Queen Mary Street nursery co-operated in overcoming a series of physical and mental challenges.

These involved entering a castle on a mountain, finding food in a jungle and making their way home after a tiring journey.

The project, a joint venture between the city and Learning and Teaching Scotland, has produced materials for pre-five, special needs and mainstream schools. It challenges the curriculum-based format of schools, in terms both of content and teaching methods.

A "dissemination event" for senior officials from authorities across Scotland will be held later this session. It follows the announcement of an additional pound;40 million for education for work programmes in the latest spending review.

Nicol Stephen, Deputy Education Minister, who is heading an investigation into education for work, stressed the importance of "excitement, creativity, energy, fun, drive and determination" in the curriculum.

Douglas Osler, senior chief inspector of schools, said: "The hard fact is that if we are serious about social inclusion - and I am, very - getting a life means getting a living and getting a living means getting an education."

Susan Fotheringham, headteacher of Queen Mary Street nursery, stressed the need to act early. "We can set the foundations for the attitudes that are required for the workforce of the future. We teach the four Cs - confidence, co-operation, communication and courage - to help pupils face challenges with optimism. Young children readily respond to challenges though sometimes we tend to knock it out of them later on because we don't create the setting for them to experience challenges."

Mr Osler said there had long been a "pragmatic understanding" that education was a preparation for work. "The current system serves a lot of children very well but not all children well enough. In part that is because of the gap between what they learn and what they need and between what they learn and what they see as important. We should listen more to young people."

The HMI chief, who retires next month, said that there is much to be done in the area of education for work. "If it is important it should be the responsibility of a promoted person in every school, not just the interested volunteer. Let's think of it as returning Scottish education to some of its original principles."

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