Swinney: Scottish curriculum review to be led by OECD

The OECD review of Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence will report next year, reveals education secretary

Emma Seith

Swinney: Scottish curriculum review to be led by OECD

The comprehensive review of Curriculum for Excellence – sparked by fears that there are significant weaknesses in the Scottish education system – is to be undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and will report next year.

The details of who will carry out the review and when it will report have been revealed by the education secretary John Swinney in a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee.


Background: Scottish Parliament backs ‘full review’ of curriculum

Related: Secondary Scottish education must be reviewed, MSPs say

Opinion: 'We need stability - not yet another curriculum review'


Originally, the Scottish government had planned to carry out a review of just the three final years of secondary when pupils take their qualifications. That review was underway and due to report this summer.

However, a defeat in the Scottish Parliament last month forced the Scottish government to change its plans and carry out not just a review of the final three years of secondary school (S4-6, the "senior phase") but “a full review of the broad general education [up to S3] and how it articulates with the senior phase”.

Concerns over Curriculum for Excellence

Key figures in Scottish education – like Scotland’s largest teaching union and the primary heads' body AHDS – have criticised the move, saying what is needed is a period of stability and investment.

In his letter to the committee, Mr Swinney said: “I am writing having reflected on last month's Conservative Party debate on education and the view of Parliament that there should be a full review of Curriculum for Excellence. I can confirm that I am making arrangements to broaden the planned review of the senior phase curriculum to a full review of Curriculum for Excellence, covering the broad general education (BGE), the senior phase and the articulation between the two.

“I can also confirm that the OECD has agreed to lead this review and we are working closely with its education directorate to determine the terms of reference for the review.”

Mr Swinney invited the committee to contribute to the terms of the reference and added that he was committed to ensuring that the issues raised through its subject choice inquiry report were considered.

The committee found that subject choice had narrowed under CfE, with some subjects like modern languages under threat, but the extent of the problem was not fully known.

It also found that there had been an increase in multi-course teaching in Scottish secondaries.

The OECD carried out the 2015 review of the broad general education phase of CfE, which runs from nursery to S3.

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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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