Curriculum for excellence but watchdog says many Scottish schools ‘weak’
MANY of Scotland’s schools are continuing to be rated “weak” or “unsatisfactory” by inspectors, despite “raised expectations” surrounding the introduction of the new curriculum, a wide-ranging report has found.
The study by Education Scotland, which collates three years of inspection reports, said “much progress” had been made since the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence in 2010, but that Scottish children continued to be “middle-ranking” when compared internationally on English, maths and science.
Despite an increasing proportion of schools receiving positive reports, it found a significant minority were still failing to meet all the tests set for them by inspectors, and it
noted a continuing divide between secondaries in affluent areas and those in more deprived parts of the country.
According to inspectors, 29 per cent of secondary schools visited in the most deprived areas rated “weak” or “unsatisfactory” in either their performance, how they met the needs of pupils or “learners’ experiences”. That compared with just 10 per cent of schools in the least deprived areas.
Dr Bill Maxwell, Education Scotland’s chief executive, said judgments made by inspectors had remained “broadly consistent” over the past three years, despite national expectations being raised as a result of the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence.
The report, Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education, which was released along within a separate breakdown of inspection visits, also notes there has been “slow progress” in developing partnerships between primary and secondary schools as part of the new curriculum.
And it recommends more focus be put on improving the ability of teachers to impart literacy and numeracy, a key part of raising attainment underCurriculum for Excellence.
Last week, a report by 20 senior educationists said the evidence base for the effectiveness of the new curriculum was “nowhere to be found”.
Writing in The Scotsman today, Professor John Coggins, one of the authors of the report, warns that the implementation of the new curriculum in the later years of secondary schools will be “very challenging”, adding that the timetable is “too ambitious”.
Education secretary Mike Russell said: “The reports from Education Scotland demonstrate the importance of school inspections and underline why we must continue to provide additional support where it is needed to ensure that Scotland becomes the best place to grow up for all our children.
“I passionately believe that the work of Education Scotland of identifying where more support is needed and swiftly working with partners to put it in place is a crucial part of improving children’s life chances.”
Of 171 secondary schools visited by inspectors, 21 were in the most deprived areas of the country and six of those (21 per cent) were found to be failing.
A spokesman for Education Scotland said: “Curriculum for Excellence has created increased expectation of higher teaching standards.
“The fact that inspectors’ quality judgments have remained broadly consistent over this period shows that teaching standards are meeting this raised expectation.”
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