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SNP’s mandatory Scottish texts will ‘limit’ pupils

28 Nov 2012

Liz Smith MSP

The list of novels, poems and plays which will comprise the new compulsory Scottish literature question in schools has been published.

The decision to include the mandatory Scottish section in the English curriculum was made by Education Secretary Mike Russell, following recommendations by the Scottish Studies Working Group.

The Scottish Conservatives have said that while some Scottish texts are among the finest in the world, forcing a small selection on pupils at the expense of other celebrated works will stifle their learning.

Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith MSP said:
“I am concerned that these recommendations are set to limit pupils’ study and stifle flexibility for teachers – something that runs completely contrary to the basic principles of Curriculum for Excellence.

“Let’s be very clear; this is not a question about whether or not pupils should study Scottish texts, some of which are amongst the finest classics in the world.

“Of course they should, just as has always been the case.

“But it is a question of providing the correct educational balance and ensuring pupils are provided with maximum choice when it comes to their course exams.

“We now have a situation where teachers of English, the EIS, the SSTA, and School Leaders Scotland have all sent a strong warning to the Scottish Government that the recommendations will stifle choice and mean that there is more teaching to the test, exactly the opposite of what is intended within the current reforms.

“Serious questions have to be asked about the process by which the decision was made to make Scottish texts mandatory.

“Despite SQA setting up a dedicated Qualifications Design Team for Higher English – similar to the design teams for all other for other subject areas – it seems that the main influence were the deliberations of a totally different body – the Scottish Government’s own Scottish Studies Working Group.

“I think parents and teachers would like to know why this was the case and that is something which the Scottish Government has, as yet, been unable to answer.”

Ends

Notes to editors:

For the original story see p3 of today’s Herald.