Editor's comment

20th November 2009 at 00:00

The implementation of both Curriculum for Excellence and the 2001 teachers' agreement has reached a "transition point," senior chief inspector Graham Donaldson tells us. There is no doubt that the one is inextricably bound up with the other, particularly in the crucial area of teachers' professional development. It is a truism that what really impacts on pupils' learning is teachers' skills and these must be regularly honed. As this week's special issue of The TESS illustrates, there is a good deal of very exciting and innovative professional development taking place - but practice is not perfect. It is, as the HMIE report acknowledges, "patchy".

The teachers' agreement places a responsibility on them to undertake CPD. And by implication, schools and education authorities must not just facilitate opportunities but ensure they are of high quality. Increasingly, not least because of budget pressures, it has come to be recognised that CPD experiences can be provided by the expertise of school staff themselves. It is not necessary to do what Aberdeenshire did this week (very impressively) and herd its 3,000 teachers into a conference centre for a day's in-service.

But there is rather a large fly in this ointment - or perhaps a wasp. The remarkable speech by Carole Ford, outgoing president of School Leaders Scotland (p3), reveals that a central component of the new curriculum, its assessment arrangements, has completely failed to win the confidence of secondary headteachers - the key group without whose commitment the new curriculum will struggle to succeed.

If HMIE and ministers wish to avoid that prospect, it is not just teachers who will have to raise their game. The Education Secretary herself must now take direct charge of discussions on the issues raised by Carole Ford and find a meeting of minds. Since we are regularly told that CfE is the only game in town, it is crucial that it is well played.

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