Schools 'kid on' they are embracing new curriculum

Curriculum for Excellence is not being adopted in a meaningful way, head claims

Emma Seith

Headteachers have been accused by one of their own of trying to "kid everybody on" they are embracing Curriculum for Excellence.

Iain White, headteacher of Govan High in Glasgow, said: "The thing that concerns me when I go to meetings is that heidies are really interested in a couple of things: how can we change what we are doing least and kid everybody on it's Curriculum for Excellence. People are actually sitting in meetings saying that. Thank God my own children are not in their schools."

He also questioned why schools were so preoccupied with just one of the four capacities: successful learners.

"Nowhere does Curriculum for Excellence talk about cramming heads full of facts to be regurgitated in an exam hall," he said.

If pupils wanted to earn their living doing pub quizzes, then they needed to know what the capital of Azerbaijan was, he continued. Otherwise they needed to have the skills at their fingertips to find things out quickly.

"That's what the 21st century is all about," he told a conference on "nurturing achievement" in Stirling last week, organised by a group of comparator schools.

Govan High had identified 71 skills, explained depute head Philip Graham. At the end of each unit of work, a skills assessment was carried out. The skills were then recorded for a database; the final result was an achievement report for every pupil.

Mr Graham was scathing about so-called interdisciplinary projects. If a box was made in "techie", painted in art and had a poem put inside it in English, the only thing that connected the learning was a box, he argued.

Pupil support

The number of principal teachers of pupil support may be diminishing, but Curriculum for Excellence still entitles every child to regular opportunities to discuss their learning with an adult, said Jane Clifford, leader of Education Scotland's support for children and young people team.

Two models discussed at the comparator schools conference were:

- Govan High in Glasgow has tutor groups of up to 10 pupils, led by experienced or promoted staff. Pupils are divided up every year according to their aspirations but can change group if their focus changes. The tutors, who see their groups once a week for one period, are also responsible for linking with parents.

- Wallace High in Stirling developed its AAA initiative after realising the pupils in the school getting the most attention were usually those causing a disturbance. Now pupil support, registration and other teachers keep aside one period per week to meet five pupils who would never usually come to their attention and discuss attainment, attendance and achievement.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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