Time to ‘reset’ curriculum for excellence, say Scots Tories

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The curriculum for excellence (CfE) determining what pupils study, needs ‘reset’, Scottish Conservatives say.

In a paper published today the party makes key recommendations to improve its delivery, following growing criticism of the Scottish Government’s education plans.

Scottish Conservatives want Scotland's curriculum for excellence re-examined.''Picture: John Devlin

Scottish Conservatives want Scotland's curriculum for excellence re-examined.''Picture: John Devlin

A poll of teachers by Ipsos Mori at the start of the year found schools are facing a rise in disruption because pupils are switching off from the new curriculum, and see the National 4 qualification as not worth their while.

Another survey found staff at Education Scotland – the government agency charged with improving the roll out of CfE - do not believe the organisation has been capable of delivering reforms successfully.

The paper follows extensive consultation with teachers, education experts and parents.

In her conclusion, Liz Smith, MSP, Scottish Conservatives shadow education secretary, said: “There was general agreement that the principles which underpin CfE – and which were agreed unanimously by Scotland’s political parties – are sound.

Ms Smith added: “There was also general agreement however, that the implementation of CfE has been fraught with problems which, in turn, have undermined its effective delivery in the classroom. There is no time to lose to get CfE back on track and ensure that Scotland is, once again, leading the field in education.”

“Simply put, CfE needs to be re-set. Under the SNP, its implementation has been muddled at best and chaotic at worst.”

The recommendations are - improving clarity, accountability and measurement; addressing the teacher shortage; slashing excessive paperwork; reforming Scotland’s education agencies and extending head teachers’ autonomy to drive up standards in the community.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said: “The EIS would agree that the founding principles of CfE remain sound and would acknowledge there has been a deficit of support from Education Scotland.”

“The main challenges faced by CfE have been caused by inadequate support, in terms of both staffing and resources.

“The most important steps that could be taken to ensure the success of CfE are the ending of austerity and increased investment in our schools, teachers and pupils.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “CfE always been about providing young people with a well-rounded education that prepares them to thrive in today’s world. It is welcome that is so broadly endorsed in Scotland.

“Teacher numbers are rising and are now 543 higher than last year as a consequence of the measures put in place by this Government, including 11 new routes into teaching.

“We acted in 2016 to clarify and simplify the curriculum framework and to remove unnecessary bureaucracy, ensuring teachers can focus on providing valuable learning experiences.”