The Outreach Team had an interesting day recently looking at the new Curriculum for Excellence outcomes and experiences for Literacy and English and Health and Well Being.
One of the outcomes under the Responsible Citizens heading started a lively debate which raised the whole issue of inclusion and equality:
I can evaluate environmental, scientific and technological issues.
We discussed case studies of students with English as an additional language (including those who use British Sign Language) and wondered if such an evaluation carried out in English would be fair to them. Surely if it is their knowledge and understanding of, say Biology, that is being assessed, then a full answer in their native tongue would be a truer representation than one done in a second language.
If this does not happen, pupils who use English as an additional language are not fully included in Curriculum for Excellence until they are proficient in written English. We decided that their abilities in their own language must be acknowledged; just as learners with dyslexia are entitled to have poor spelling overlooked if the content is understood.
This of course raises enormous issues about availability of translators, apart from the more deep seated issue about a right to be included.
Thanks to Janet Storey for the fascinating lead on this discussion.