Editor's comment

3rd April 2009 at 01:00

It has had a long gestation, but the final version of A Curriculum for Excellence has now emerged. Colour-coded, cross-referenced, tidied up in some parts and more specific in others, the guidance comes in a single package for the first time. The thinking behind it is that it will give teachers a picture of where their work fits into the bigger picture.

Until now, teachers' biggest concerns have been over progression, continuity, vagueness, lack of exemplification, and the place of assessment. Research reveals that once teachers actually got down to trying out the draft "experiences and outcomes" in their own classroom, their concerns lessened.

Fear of the unknown may have been an initial inhibitor, but there was probably more to the teachers' change of attitude: those trialling the draft guidance have been doing so with enhanced support. That underlines the importance of the need for continuing professional development - and plenty of it. Pilots are never a reliable guide: they are, as has often been observed, doomed to succeed.

There is no doubt that the level of engagement with ACfE, never mind implementation, varies from school to school and authority to authority. That is inevitable, given that the Scottish Government wants this to be a programme which can be tailored to local needs. It is also inevitable, however, that flexibility and lack of prescription will expose teachers who are struggling. In turn, that will demand stronger leadership and support.

Let's make no bones about it: the road to implementation of ACfE is likely to be rocky. The publication of assessment and qualifications guidance will be important milestones, but there could yet be diversions en route.

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