Curriculum for Excellence 'reset' required, Tories claim

9 January 2018, 06:37


The Scottish Conservatives have called for a "reset" of the national curriculum, arguing it is not working well enough to deliver on its aims.

The party has published a paper setting out five recommendations for improvement of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) following consultation with teachers, education experts and parents.

The Tories want to see greater clarity, accountability and measurement in the system, a reduction in "excessive" guidance and paperwork for teachers and more new routes into the sector to address teacher shortages.

Education spokeswoman Liz Smith also called for reform of Scotland's education agencies and for greater autonomy for headteachers to take decisions about their schools.

In the conclusion to the paper, Ms Smith said: "Throughout all the interviews and consultations we undertook, there was general agreement that the principles which underpin Curriculum for Excellence - and which were agreed unanimously by Scotland's political parties - are sound.

"This is because there is widespread agreement that pupils should understand why they are learning something just as much as what they are learning.

"There was also general agreement, however, that the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence has been fraught with problems which, in turn, have undermined its effective delivery in the classroom.

"There is no time to lose to get Curriculum for Excellence back on track and ensure that Scotland is, once again, leading the field in education."

The Tories cited recent research from Ipsos Mori for the Scottish Government which found that some secondary teachers and headteachers thought the introduction of the new curriculum "had led to increased disengagement of some S4 pupils" due to the lack of an exam for national four qualifications.

The party also highlighted the recent finding that only 7% of Education Scotland employees believe change is managed well by the organisation while just 9% believe that when changes are made, they are "usually for the better".

Ms Smith added: "Simply put, Curriculum for Excellence needs to be reset. Under the SNP, its implementation has been muddled at best and chaotic at worst.

"There is no point having a new curriculum if pupils are not getting the basics in literacy and numeracy, and teachers are left confused by what they're supposed to be doing.

"As the evidence shows, this will only lead to disruption in the classroom as pupils switch off.

"The SNP must get a grip. Nicola Sturgeon said education was her top priority after she became First Minister - only to spend most of her time obsessing over independence. In 2018, it is time she honoured her promise."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Curriculum for Excellence has always been about providing young people with a well-rounded education that prepares them to thrive in today's world.

"It is welcome that it is so broadly endorsed in Scotland.

"Teacher numbers are rising in Scotland 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 for young people.

"Our education reforms will create a school and teacher-led system, empowering teachers to fully deliver the vision of Curriculum for Excellence."