Editor's comment

14th May 2010 at 01:00

Now that the HMIE cavalry is riding to the rescue and schools have the Education Secretary's 10-point action plan, published last month, there is "absolutely no reason for any failure" to implement Curriculum for Excellence. That is the Scottish Government's upbeat view, a confidence not shared in all quarters.

The inspectorate would not be taking the drastic step of suspending inspections of secondary schools for four months next session if it did not have serious concerns about the state of readiness in many.

As secondary schools edge closer to the new assessment timetable, the implications of the Government's blueprint are becoming clearer. The siren voices, such as Lindsay Paterson's (p4), are growing louder in their warnings over the ineffectiveness of the new assessment and qualifications arrangements. The curriculum lacks rigour, the guidelines fail to recognise the need for specialist subject skills and the assessments are a poor substitute for the current system, he says.

Concern, too, about the Government's diktat against early presentation is finding fresh impetus. At the end of six years of monitoring, the Glasgow University team evaluating Kirkcudbright Academy's flexible curriculum concludes it has moved from being a good academic school to one that "ranks among the best in Scotland". Its curriculum has pupils sitting Standard grades in S3 and the scope to sit up to nine Highers from S4-6, ticking the most important CfE boxes: engaging and challenging young people; shifting the emphasis towards the learning of skills; and organising assessment as an accumulative, ongoing process.

But, as with the computer in the Little Britain sketch, the response to this experiment is that "the Government says no". How does that chime with the rhetoric of autonomy, risk-taking, innovation and focusing on outputs not inputs? To borrow a phrase from the election, ministers need to "get real".

Neil Munro, editor of the year (business and professional magazine).

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