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The secret curriculum

The Scottish 5-14 curriculum is much less prescriptive than the English National Curriculum. Instead of defining in gory detail exactly what is taught, central government in Edinburgh sets out to define what children should be acheiving and how schools should teach. But the actual content they teach is only defined in rather broad terms. The detail is, by and large, left to schools to decide.This seems to be rather better than the way things are done in England.

Or perhaps not.

Concerned by an apparent lack of history being studied, I asked at my children's school for a copy of the curriculum they were working to. Some weeks later I received a copy of some Scottish Executive information about the kind of children they hoped that schools would be turning out, and a copy of the themes around which the coursework would be based. The details for this term, by class,  are reproduced below.


Now to my untutored eye, this doesn't look anything like a curriculum. It looks like a series of pages selected at random from a tabloid newspaper. There's lots of environmentalism. There's no history. There's lots of surrogate parenthood. There's multiculturalism and perhaps some EU propaganda but apparently, no maths.

Now I know for a fact that there is maths being taught because I hear it from the children at the end of the day. Confused, I went back to the school again to find out what the story was. There must be more to it than this.

The answer is that there is more to it. The teachers apparently create plans based on the themes above, setting out exactly what it is they are going to teach in each class. "They're hanging lots of different subjects off each theme". Which sounds very interesting. Maybe it's OK, there's a systematic approach lurking there, unseen behind a bland list of themes.

Big problem. I'm not allowed to see the teaching plans. That's right, folks:

I'm not allowed to see what my children are being taught.

I'm paying thousands of pounds a year in return for which the state is going to provide my children with an education. And they won't tell me what the hell it is they're teaching them.

And beyond that, I don't know what to say.


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Reader Comments (5)

Parents with children in P6/7 are going to get grief in huge great dollops walking through the door at the end of each school day. "What are you doing to save the rainforests, female guardian?", "Why do you drink Nescafe instead of Fairtrade coffee, male guardian?" "Can we cycle the 15 miles to school instead of using the Landrover?"
Dec 1, 2007 at 11:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud
Silly Primate !

<i>"I'm paying thousands of pounds a year in return for which the state is going to provide my children with an education."</i> - when you pay to send your children to the schools to which your Labour elected officials send *their* children, then *you* are paying ...

When you send your children to a State School, then, obviously, the State is paying for 'em !

Lordy - you would think that anyone who had been through the the Scots educational system would understand something as simple as that !


You have piqued my curiosity, I admit ... my secondary school experience was at the then-excellent Hillhead High School in Glasgow, in the '60s ... I have since moved to the Los Angeles area in California - where my own daughters go to a private school, precisely so that they will have the opportunities that are afforded by an excellent education ... my brother is a Maths teacher in Scotland - I'll be asking him for more details of the curricula in the divers subjects at the school where he teaches ...

(And, yes, the (over)use of the ellipses is a personal eccentricity - my English teachers would most likely be horrified ! (grin))
Dec 4, 2007 at 1:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlasdair
It's all about "relevance". The theory is that minorities don't do well at school because they don't connect to the subject. ie If Muslims knew that other Muslims once made a huge contribution to Maths, then they would be enthused to become doctors or nuclear physicists. Who knows what that could lead to.

It's a curious development. Children are apparently bored by Geography so to enthuse them, they now talk about sustainable development, fair trade and ecology but bugger all about the real facts. In this way every subject becomes not an end in itself and a means to judge competiting narratives by a means to enthusing the activists of tomrrow.
Dec 4, 2007 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterTDK
"When you send your children to a State School, then, obviously, the State is paying for 'em!"

Who funds the state, Alasdair, you dickhead?
Dec 5, 2007 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

If you re-read Alasdair's comment again you will notice a small hint as to what he really means, viz:


Dec 5, 2007 at 8:25 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

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