Editor's comment

7th November 2008 at 00:00

This is becoming a habit. Yet again, a government has been forced to delay a major school reform. So far, A Curriculum for Excellence and the "next generation" of qualifications have not been troubled by the tortuous experiences which accompanied the introduction of the 5-14 changes, Standard grade and Higher Still. In fact, the only reform of the past 20 years which had a relatively smooth passage was the 16-18 action plan - and it was, arguably, more revolutionary than all the others, as it replaced sub-degree courses in further education with modular programmes. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned there.

Tensions will always exist in education reform between those who wish to see change quickly and those for whom consultation is not just a process but a mantra. The action plan was an example of speed; the 11 years to bring Standard grade from committee room to classroom was not. Of course, politicians are expected to learn from mistakes, and there is no doubt that Higher Still, for example, suffered from being hatched in cloistered surroundings - influenced by teacher representatives, certainly, but not always by serving teachers.

It was therefore decided that ACfE would evolve gradually and involve teachers from the bottom up rather than top down - the bidet rather than cascade approach. This gave way to complaints that it was all coming apart, with no national direction or leadership. Those promoting change seldom win - damned if they do, damned if they don't.

The main challenge for the reformed curriculum remains secondary schools, rather than primaries - hence the pressure for delay by School Leaders Scotland, representing secondary heads, and the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (as well as the Educational Institute of Scotland). That is where renewed effort is required: the additional year must not be wasted.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now