CfE support group disbanded

27th August 2010 at 01:00
Demise could leave local authorities struggling, says teacher body

At a critical stage in Curriculum for Excellence, one of the main bodies for supporting its implementation has been disbanded.

Less than a year after it was set up, the ADES-led Curriculum for Excellence partnership has been wound up - apparently by the mutual consent of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland and the Scottish Government.

One of the teacher bodies which took part in it expressed fears that its demise would leave local authorities "floundering"; others, however, said it was too "unwieldy", with 80-plus members at many meetings, to have a truly strategic impact.

The partnership was set up last September in response to exhortations by the then Education Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, to education directors that it was up to them to make sure CfE worked.

David Cameron, who was ADES president at the time, told The TESS that the partnership was intended to provide a supportive network to try to ensure "consistency in implementation across Scotland".

The CfE management board's role was to set policy; the partnership's was to focus on implementation on the ground.

"ADES recognised that not all authorities were in an equally strong position to deliver this kind of change because of differences in size and the haphazard nature of resources they had to deliver CfE," said Mr Cameron, the former director of education at Stirling Council.

He added: "It seems surprising that at the point we are at, that a partnership with the aims of the original group does not still have some role to play."

Richard Goring, who represented the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association on the group, said he felt it had been a "very positive" organisation.

"It showed that local authorities were keen to try and make things happen with Curriculum for Excellence and find ways of supporting it in schools. My fear is that if it does not exist, then authorities will be left floundering."

David Drever, who represented the Educational Institute of Scotland, was less enthusiastic. "While it provided a useful platform for exchanging experiences and for an extended staff development exercise, it seemed to us to be too broad-ranging and unwieldy to give the strategic implementation support necessary," he said.

Other sources described the group as providing senior education figures with a platform to be "triumphalist" about their particular successes in implementing CfE, while these claims were not necessarily being mirrored on the ground.

There have also been suggestions that ADES would rather have run a "closed shop" group, similar to its personnel group for the implementation of the national teachers' agreement, and that it was forced by the Scottish Government to admit "partners" from teacher unions and associations.

Leslie Manson, president of ADES, said the decision to wind up the group had been reached "mutually". Although some of the partners were keen for it to continue, ADES and the Government felt it was time to "pass the baton" to the authorities and schools.

The Education Secretary's 10-point plan for implementing CfE, published earlier this year, had created "excellence" groups that would pick up the strategic leadership on the detail of some of the subjects and topics for schools and authorities, said Mr Manson.

The driving force behind the partnership had been its chairman, Don Ledingham, who had resigned from that position in the early summer to concentrate on work for his own authority, East Lothian Council, he added.

Mr Russell said: "ADES are a key partner in the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence and we are pleased to have worked so closely with them. Part of their work involved the ADES-led Curriculum for Excellence partnership, which the Scottish Government provided funding for.

"However, the partnership has decided to conclude their work through this forum."

Elizabeth Buie and Henry Hepburn,

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