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Up to £2 million spent on unused Ulster-Scots learning materials


22/10/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

Almost £2 million was spent producing Ulster-Scots learning materials but schools had no idea they existed, an inspection report has found.

New Ulster-Scots language classes failed to catch on because resources were not made widely available, teachers received no training and the materials are now out-of-date.

The Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) yesterday published a report of its evaluation of the work of the Curriculum Development Unit (CDU) for Ulster-Scots.

The report highlighted significant weaknesses in the project, which it said was hampered by management.

While 22 schools took part in a successful pilot and praised the materials, there was no further progress which limited the potential for success.

The CDU, based at Stranmillis University College, was set up to develop an Ulster-Scots curriculum and produce materials for teaching language, history and culture in primary and post-primary schools.

During 2006-2007, the materials were piloted in 22 schools and the inspectorate said these provided good background to the history and the culture of Ulster-Scots.

Primary materials were launched in March 2006 although the preparation of the materials for an interactive learning website was incomplete.

Once complete, the intention was to publish this on C2K, an online network for schools, but difficulty in getting agreement between the Ulster Scots Agency and the Ulster-Scots Academy Implementation Group prevented this.

In December 2007 the materials were made available on the Ulster Scots Agency's own website but the majority of schools visited in May/June 2008 "were not aware of the materials' availability", inspectors found.

The report also said there was a need for the primary resources to be more relevant to the Northern Irish experience rather than a Scottish one.

There was also a need for "an agreed standardisation of spelling to avoid confusion for the learners".

Because none of the piloted material was left with the schools and they did not receive any redrafted materials subsequent to the pilot, "there was no incentive for the schools to continue with integrating elements of Ulster-Scots into the curriculum", it said.

Chief inspector Stanley Goudie said the project was well received in the pilot schools and fulfilled its basic remit in producing materials for the teaching of language, history and culture.

"The materials produced have the potential to support important areas of the curriculum at both primary and post-primary levels," he said.

"However, the management of the project had significant weaknesses and the limited involvement of the teaching staff and lack of access to the materials has meant that the interest and positive responses have not been built upon.

"The materials produced, while current at the time, would now need to be updated in line with the revised curriculum."



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