Editor's comment

17th July 2009 at 01:00
What is A Curriculum for Excellence really about

If you ask the average teacher what A Curriculum for Excellence is about, it is an odds-on bet that they will struggle to define it. As for the passenger on the top deck of the Clarkston omnibus, don't even bother to ask. For some, it is about interdisciplinary work; for others, the primacy of subjects is asserted. For some, it is about tweaking what they already do; for others, it is about "transformational" change.

The architects of the reform stick by its principles, yet they are in growing despair that these are being subverted and that, although the blueprint was published almost five years ago (unbelievably), nothing much seems to have changed. The "big picture" thinking that underpinned the original proposals, such as developing "higher-order skills" and personalising the curriculum, has been lost in the minutiae of "experiences and outcomes". Part of the confusion and lack of clarity stems from this very duality: as Keir Bloomer points out (p1), there are strategic goals as well as realistic ones and they need to march to different timescales.

This observation, however, underlines the fact that the new curriculum is a complex project to manage, and it is management at a national level that seems to be lacking - in communication, in marketing and in strategic direction. The laissez-faire approach to continuing professional development is a case in point, despite its crucial importance to the success of the enterprise. Where is the action on CPD that the Education Secretary promised in February?

There are attempts to keep this flagship off the rocks, and the implementation group led by the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland has made a start. But the time is surely overdue for someone to take charge of communications and get the message across to teachers, parents and passengers on the Clarkston omnibus.

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