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New ideas? That's excellent

A CURRICULUM for Excellence should already be having an impact in schools, according to the chief executive of Learning and Teaching Scotland who said there was "a huge amount of enthusiasm" for the changes.

Bernard Mc-Leary stressed that teachers should be getting a chance to think about the implications of the document and to come up with new ideas. He gave examples of "innovative practice" brought about with ACfE in mind.

"We are expecting schools to be considering their practice in terms of the values, purposes and principles," he said.

"Much of the work they are involved in will fulfil these key drivers. They should be identifying where they have cause to improve, for example, in offering choice either within the classroom or within the school."

He said that staff should have a "clear idea of the implications" of ACfE, and every teacher be given a chance to reflect on and discuss the document.

Mr McLeary listed "innovative practice" that was emerging in response to A Curriculum for Excellence: "One ex-ample is a school with an integrated early years base where children from age three to six are working with a range of adults developing their learning in an experiential way.

"Another is where schools are beginning to identify ways of recognising young people's wider achievements, encouraging them to gather evidence of their learning within and beyond school."

He also pointed to secondary schools where timetables had been suspended to ensure collaboration between departments, and creative projects looking at globalisation, citizenship or the celebration of diversity.

"It's not just content," he stressed. "It's about how to teach."

Mr McLeary said LTS was listening to feedback on Planet Earth, the project on science education that produced the first set of curriculum outcomes and experiences based on A Curric-ulum for Excellence.

Although that has been largely positive, there was felt to be a need for examples to underpin ideas, and for clear definitions of commonly-used terms such as "sustainability" and "enterprise".

These findings will inform pilot schemes in the next school year where local authorities may be asked to identify schools to test the planned changes in science.

Mr McLeary's comments came after he addressed teachers at a conference on A Curriculum for Excellence in Erskine last week.

At the same event, Jim Stephen, of the Scottish Executive's children and families division, confirmed that SNP ministers were "very committed" to A CfE - although he suggested they might "shift the emphasis" of ACfE, perhaps towards Scottish history or science and technology.

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