Teach the teachers

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Your leader comment (22 February) highlights that Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) has yet to produce the mindset change among teachers that it requires.

And since CfE has now been around for a number of years this has to be a cause for concern. Primary teachers cover all areas from the art of shoelace tying to Fibonacci series. But CfE rightly asks that they teach in more depth, with greater topical relevance. Primary teachers are as aware of topical issues as any of us but they lack the specialism that would give them depth.

One example is science. We wouldn’t think of having German or Mandarin taught in schools by teachers unable to speak the languages themselves so why ask them to teach science without ensuring they have a more than basic understanding?

Primary five to seven pupils are expected to understand enough about energy production to be able to begin to follow topical debates on sustainability. How many primary school teachers know how electrical energy, the staple of our modern civilisation, is produced?

By all means let there be money given to schools to help them introduce CfE, but the money should be directed at high quality in-service training. Primary teachers know how to teach, and are keen to do well, but you don’t get quality learning without depth of knowledge.

They have traditionally been the Jack of all trades. Time to give Jack/Jill a better toolkit.

roger meacham

Yetholm

Borders

Educationalists were alarmed by the SNP’s Curriculum for Excellence with its ominous claim that it would emphasise “life skills” rather than academic competence.

Teachers now warn parents and pupils that employers will attach little value to National 4 because it is “impossible to fail” and no final test will be externally set and assessed.

It is feared that Scottish schoolchildren will fall even further behind their contemporaries internationally because of this politically inspired drift away from academic rigour.

The SNP announced extra money is available to help parents “understand” the exams but that is another taxpayer-financed propaganda exercise like its infamous white paper.

Given Holyrood’s already excessive control of higher education, it is a portentous sign of the centralised micromanaging we can expect in an independent Scotland.

Dr John Cameron

Howard Place

St Andrews