A DUNFERMLINE High School teacher has written a damning open letter to Nicola Sturgeon, warning that Scotland's curriculum is "utterly failing the children in our care".

Biology teacher Mark Wilson has urged the First Minister to "save our education system".

He appealed to her to listen to teachers with direct experience of how pupils are being hit by a system which he claims is not fit for purpose.

He also warns of an "unprecedented decline in the organisation and standard of Scottish education" over the six years since the controversial Curriculum for Excellence was launched, adding: "The system as it stands is not fit for purpose.

"It is demoralising, hobbling and utterly failing the children in our care; as well as lowering attainment and widening social inequality in our pupils."

Mr Wilson, who has been a teacher for 16 years, is a former SNP member and 'Yes' voter. Since posting the letter on his blog, it has been viewed by more than 12,000 people and shared hundreds of times on social media.

He said he initially wrote it in response to growing frustration at the repeated changes to course structures and pupil outcomes targets, which meant he has been unable to teach the same course for more than a single year at a time.

However, the dad-of-two opted to publish it after Trinity Academy, in Edinburgh, was last week forced to appeal to parents to help teach maths classes after failing to find teachers to fill vacancies.

Last month, a total of 20 councils reported 404 unfilled posts, evenly split between primary and secondary schools, and 12 other local authorities are trying to fill around 100 positions.

Fife Council had 56 unfilled positions last week.

In his letter, Mr Wilson says the current conditions teachers are labouring under are so gruelling that they are starting to "hate, dread, stress over and now depart a role we loved so much".

Changes to his own subject, biology, have left it "unreasonably difficult, lacking opportunity for practical activities, far too prescriptive, overly concerned with inconsequential minutiae and extremely content-heavy".

While teachers struggled to keep up with alterations to exam requirements, he said an "elitist" structure was developing with pupils who might have previously attained a Standard Grade 3 or even 2 level being left with little hope of passing or even being able to sit the final exam.

A lack of value placed on the National 4 qualification meant pupils were classed as not academic "and sat to one side as the certificate kids get taught how to pass the exam," he added. "This elitist approach is counter to any good teacher's desire to provide the best opportunity for our children to succeed.

"I didn't become a teacher to tell a portion of my kids they aren't good enough to sit an exam."

He called on the First Minister to "utilise the resources, the well of skills and experts you have at your disposal, and please, please save our education system from the disaster that is CFE."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government values teachers for the vital work they do educating and inspiring our young people. We have made a commitment to tackle bureaucracy and address excessive teacher workload.

"That will continue to be a key theme of our bold education reforms which also include headteachers being given more power to make decisions in their schools to improve education and more money to make the changes needed.

"As the OECD's independent review showed, Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is the right approach for Scotland and provides a solid foundation on which to transform education nationally, with the latest exam results and statistics on positive destinations demonstrating that CfE is successfully meeting the needs of young people.

"Changes to National Qualifications were welcomed when announced last year, with the removal of unit assessments freeing up time for teachers to focus on learning and teaching."

You can read Mr Wilson's letter here: https://markwilsonbooks.com/2017/09/15/an-open-letter-to-nicola-sturgeon-from-a-teacher-desperate-to-love-his-job-again/