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Wagons' role?

THE VISION is of lorry-loads of 5-14 documents speeding along the Kingsway from Broughty Ferry while the protesting truckers were being barred from there by the police. Whether one lot of diesel-guzzling is more useful than the other might be disputed, especially in primary schools not looking forward to yet another batch of booklets to peruse.

Like everyone else, we as reporters were faced by the problem of identifying what is new in the latest materials from Learning and Teaching Scotland.

Headteachers in particular want to know what has been changed, for they also know that HMI will expect the latest sophistications to be represented in classroom work. In practice, there are no radical departures, but the 5-14 programme cannot be set in aspic. Its content and approach have to move with the times, and Ian Barr of LTS claims that the disparate bits of the system are now coming together,towards a 3-18 curriculum, and a tidying-up was needed.

The new Minister for Education has spoken out against imposition from on high.

He wants to involve the profession. There is a tension between that and the notion of a national curriculum, even if in theory it remains only advisory.

The 5-14 guidelines give a framework to what was once an undisciplined system dependent on the whim and priorities of heads and class teachers. As LTS recognises - along with, optimistically, the HMI - guidelines exist to be adapted to individual circumstances.

Environmental studies have posed a problem in primary schools. The latest thinking is to ally themes to secondary subjects. Some primary teachers may regret the retreat from a seamless curriculum, but it should ease transition from primary to secondary at a time when the notion of 10-14 planning is belatedly back on the agenda.

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