Curriculum for Excellence is no laughing matter

LAUGHTER IS not the response that a minister making what he believes to be a significant policy announcement would expect to get from a knowledgeable audience, yet that was what education secretary Michael Russell faced yesterday.

Mr Russell had just told headteachers from the EIS union that he had decided that the controversial new Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) was to be rewritten to make it simpler to understand.

It may be that the heads were laughing ironically because they believe that merely cutting back on the verbiage is not the answer to the underlying problem of the curriculum – the lack of time and resources being put into its implementation.

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Or it might have been that they were amused that Keir Bloomer, a former chief executive of Clackmannanshire Council and one of the architects of the new scheme, was to be one of two experts tasked with the rewriting.

In both cases, the heads may have a point, but it would be wrong not to acknowledge that unlike his predecessor, Mr Russell is listening to the criticisms of the curriculum and trying to introduce changes to make it better.

One of the most telling criticisms of CfE has been that it is so vague it is almost meaningless, so an attempt to clarify its purpose and simplify the language in which that is expressed is a welcome, if small, step in the right direction.