Editor's comment

2nd October 2009 at 01:00

It is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid reaching the same conclusion on the new curriculum and its assessment handmaiden as Judith Gillespie did in her column last week: "It's a mess." To nearly quote Laurel and Hardy seems apposite: the situation would be comical if it was not so serious. It almost seems now that the more attempts are made to clarify what the new arrangements will look like, the less clarity there is.

We make no apology for devoting so much space in this week's issue to the proposed shape of the assessment regime (p1, 3, 4, 5). It is vitally important that people have access to these plans in detail and to the comments being made about them. We fear, however, that the end result of such exposure will be confusion. Who on earth can make sense of a system that has different meanings for SCQF Level 4, ACfE level 4 and National 4? And what hope is there for parental and employer understanding if the professionals closest to the reforms are mired in conflicting interpretations?

We know, of course, that "flexibility" is the watchword guiding this masterplan. One definition of the word is "bending easily", and we fear the point has now almost been reached where there is such pliability that the whole enterprise has lost its meaning. There have been calls for some strategic leadership, but we believe the most immediate requirement is for operational understanding: how will it work and, as Judith Gillespie comments, how will it look from the standpoint of the child?

There is a world of difference between micro-managing the new curriculum and how it is assessed, which would have few supporters, and not managing it. It's a fine balancing act, but the current position has no sense of balance at all.

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