What is happening in Scotland's schools? We've been slipping down the league tables for years now, throwing more and more money at education, yet so many children are moving onto secondary school without having the reading and writing skills to cope.
A few generations ago any child who wasn't educationally fit for the 'big school' would repeat primary 7 until they were able to reach the standard required. That obviously doesn't happen these days because so many are going forward to secondary without the skills to cope.
We all know there is a distinction between primary and secondary education. It is absolutely necessary to have the basic skills of literacy and numeracy to be able to handle the style of teaching in senior schools. Recent statistics showed two-thirds of second year pupils were unable to read properly.
Scotland is introducing a new system of education The Curriculum for Excellence; an interactive style of teaching which includes 'innovation practice, interdisciplinary projects, CPD opportunities, videos and presentations'. The new fourth-year exams will be known as Nationals and the 'gold standard' Highers will be retained. More able pupils will sit National 5s which will be graded externally by the SQA, but others will sit National 4s, assessed by their school.
The CFE adds extra layers of organisational bodies on top of the management board to establish best practice and involve parents, teachers and other stakeholders. These include subject-specific excellence groups, which will develop relevant areas of the curriculum and be made up of, for example, top English teachers and leading Scottish authors. There will also be a so-called 'development group' of stakeholders created, which will contribute to the ongoing working of the CFE.
The aim of this CFE is 'to produce successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors' and the curriculum will be divided into eight subject areas: expressive arts; health and wellbeing; languages; mathematics; religious and moral education; sciences; social studies and technologies. Literacy and numeracy units would be built into English and mathematics qualifications.
How are the two thirds of school children who have difficulty reading going to cope with such a curriculum? The cost of 'special' teachers can drain a school's resources. Who are the stakeholders involved?
I've found one of the stakeholders - Learning Teaching Scotland which is a Scottish government funded quango. They are encouraging teachers to introduce 'citizenship themes' and other matters completely irrelevant to our children learning a basic education in order to survive in today's modern world.
Under the Education for Citizenship scheme developed by these people, pupils would also be encouraged to carry out surveys to highlight 'gender imbalance' in the scientific community.
It is the latest outlandish idea from LTD which was criticised last month after encouraging pupils to act out racist incidents in bizarre role-play exercises.
Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said : "This is pure manipulative gobbledegook. There is a clear intention to politicise every subject in a left-wing educational idealogy."
My concern is for the 66% of our children who are unable to read a book with ease yet they will be taught religion and moral education along with health and wellbeing according to the gospel of LTS. . Shouldn't the learning of ABC and 1+1=2 be more important?
I'm doubtful this new system will improve standards and surely that's what change should do. Not only that, it concerns me greatly that we have another quango pumping our children full of information which will do nothing towards their goals of being employed.
Time for the Scottish government to get rid of this PC quango and use those educationalists who believe that literacy and numeracy should be taught within a framework of tried and tested subjects.
With teachers having to cope with the new Curriculum for Excellence and this quango laying down further objectives, is it any wonder so many are refusing to enter the profession once they're qualified or are leaving distinctly disillusioned.
Note: During a conversation last week with a retired teacher who resides in England, she mentioned pupils are now involved in the selection and interviewing of staff at some of the schools in her county. To be honest I thought she was joking - but it seems not. Our education system is falling apart.