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Caught in the crossfire: conditions of work in the English classroom in Scotland

Mitchell, June (2004) Caught in the crossfire: conditions of work in the English classroom in Scotland. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 3 (3). pp. 61-67. ISSN 1175-8708

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In this narrative, a Scottish teacher of English reviews her experiences with two classes of pupils as she negotiates the twin demands of teaching for learning and teaching to succeed in assessments. It is argued that there are currently flaws in the Scottish curriculum and assessment structures, and these flaws are damaging learning for all except the pupils at the top end of the ability spectrum who will be able to move on after school to further success. Each day, Scottish teachers of English face pupils who are not being supported as learners and on whom the burden of inappropriate and excessive assessment of their learning is placed. It is argued that, for deep learning to occur, there needs to be a shift of focus, an adjustment in methodologies and for teaching to be paced to suit the readiness of learners.