Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Trouble bubbles on the horizon as Curriculum for Excellence runs into trouble again, education professionals want delay to fix problems

Dear All

Education, education, education, the mantra of Tony Blair while in public office, and he was right, the value of education cannot be understated in the development of a country.

Education like justice isn’t a flagship SNP Government policy, colleges are getting funding cuts and forced mergers, universities haven’t been properly addressed for sustainability and the schools programme is in real trouble.

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) was hailed by the SNP Government as a breakthrough to change pupil experience.

The problem is that instead of presenting a complete of the shelf ready to go package, the work hasn’t been properly done by the Scottish Government and then dumped on schools.

Now academics have warned the programme may never be fully delivered, the reason is simple, not enough due care and attention was done by Mike Russell the education minister.

So, what is the solution?

Pull it to beyond 2014, fix it pilot it and analysis a study.

It really is that easy.

The first major university study into Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is not good news for the SNP Government, in fact, they don’t realise just how bad it is.

They are too busy spending their time campaigning for independence when they should be at their desks working.

A Stirling University report found significant variation across secondary schools in an unnamed council area.


Teachers are worried about the growing workload, a lack of time for preparation and "vague" national guidelines.

And you can teach something to any standard if you don’t know it yourself.

Key findings of the report are:

The majority of teachers welcome the principles of CfE, but highlight difficulties due to "confusing and vague" guidance and terminology.

Many are making progress in implementation, but complain about increases in workload and have a lack of confidence and some "anxiety" about future direction.

Of schools that have taken a long-term approach to CfE, some are making good progress while there have been "minimal changes to practice" at others.

Insufficient time allocated in many schools for the development required to make sense of "complex and often novel concepts".

Dr Mark Priestley, from the university's school of education, concluded:

"CfE has much to commend it, although its implementation has been far from smooth. There remains a risk that eventual implementation in many schools will not represent the sort of transformational change envisaged. Implementation is dependent upon the active engagement of professional and committed teachers ... such engagement has been rendered difficult for many by a lack of clarity and coherence in the documents that have guided implementation."

The SNP inherited CfE from the Labour/Lib Dem Executive and rather than question it properly, they just sat back and let it sail on since its launch in November 2004.

Pressure is mounting on the SNP Government to do something, show some kind of leadership on this issue to restore trust but no one is really listening.

A few quid has been tossed at the problem by the Scottish Government.

It’s not money; it is a lack of understanding and time.

However, the Scottish Government recently announced a series of measures to support implementation, including centrally produced course materials.

Treating the symptoms but not curing the disease.

Ann Ballinger, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association hits the nail on the head when she says:

"My concern is that we lose that promise in a rush to implement when there is no educational reason for pressing ahead in the current timescale."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said:

"We have listened to teachers' views and have responded supportively most recently providing an additional £3.5 million support package relating specifically to the transition to the new qualifications, linked to wider CfE implementation. This research is based on information collected in the previous school year in a single council area and great strides have been made since then to ensure effective implementation and build the confidence of all teachers."

Not willing to accept evidence, it seems that some Scottish pupils will not be going ‘forward’ rather they will be going backwards!

Yours insincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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