SEAS is of the view that we have to build towards amore relevant Senior Phase broadening out beyond the traditional subject diet towards more technical, practical, vocational education. In our view a more relevant curriculum is necessary for those who find themselves put of place in a narrow academic curriculum serving those heading for higher education. The curriculum needs to serve all young people. The SEAS has long campaigned that schools need to do better by working class children, too many leave school too early without engaging with curriculum that leads to success in national qualifications.
How do we build towards this starting from early stages of schooling? SEAS member Margaret Houston has some suggestions.
All children should be encouraged to see education as a life-long experience. Other subject areas like economics and political economy need to be give a higher profile.
As regards economics more needs to feature and be taught at Second level with Curriculum for Excellence in primary school. This could be done in a practical way. College of Food Technology (who trained and employed a UK Master Chef) could send out a chef and an economist to assist in a school fund-raising project. (N.B. the Masterchef actually set up kitchens in the most deprived areas of the East End of London to encourage single parents how to cook on a very low budget. Both women and men who attended, loved the classes).
In primary Sschools a good example of economics could be making and selling tablet (forget about dieticians for the moment!). The Chef would get them to help him calculate how much tablet they would make, and also how to calculate cots and explain profit! The Economist would show them how to plot the costs on a Supply and Demand diagram, and explain how equilibrium is reached.
When the children are involved in the production of something and encouraged to ask as many questions as they wish, they will lose any fear of the subject, and more importantly the vocabulary of economics will become part of their every day life!!
(Let’s hope the teachers would enjoy this experience too!)
At primary stages, within the Second level of Curriculum for Excellence, every school should receive visits from Further Education and University Heads of Departments. The Colleges and Universities should have open days for children at this stage for children to visit and learn about the work of different departments, and what subjects would enable them to be offered a place when they are old enough to attend. Both the Glasgow School of Art, as well as the Conservatoire should be included. There should be absolutely no mystery about attending further or higher education.
Once the pupils reach Secondary School they can be taught about shifts of both demand and supply curves and what the result would be on prices and or quantity demanded and supplied and also on numbers employed( i.e. shift to right more employed shift to the left fewer employed.)
All Secondary School students could be taught a very basic circular flow diagram which introduces the government into the economy. In second/third year, they could be taught how Government Taxation and Spending can either increase or decrease the circular flow of income. This is the point when politics comes into play i.e. high taxation with no government spending can contract the economy and unemployment may begin to rise, but high taxation together with government spending can expand the economy (i.e. more jobs are created the economy).
To develop their understanding of how the above works, they can be introduced to a little economic history by looking at a chart of past increases in employment and conversely increases in unemployment and finding out what caused this to occur and explaining how this affects businesses and households alike.
It should also be explained to them that a lot of UK growth came directly as a result of UK membership of the European Union because businesses from all over the world opened offices in London (and some even opened factories n the UK so that they could trade both with UK and European Union free from tariffs).