An education system for all

6th June 2008 at 01:00
When their exam results come through in August, many young people will begin a new chapter of their lives in further or higher education while others will enter the workforce, all helping to make Scotland a skilled power base
When their exam results come through in August, many young people will begin a new chapter of their lives in further or higher education while others will enter the workforce, all helping to make Scotland a skilled power base. But what about those young people whose circumstances have held them back, whose backgrounds have dictated that they should be denied the chance to prove themselves?

Over recent months, momentum has been gathering on the changes we want to see introduced to make the Scottish education system more inclusive, dynamic and fair. Another step towards inclusivity will be taken next week when professionals from all sectors and organisations will gather for a conference at Celtic Park in Glasgow to look at how we can work together to achieve this transformational change.

There are challenges and opportunities which everyone in education will have to meet. There are no templates which can be applied. Instead, there will be a need for models to be developed at local level to address local needs and situations. There will be implications for leadership at all levels and for continuing professional development.

At a national level, we will be providing a framework for reform which will ensure that Scotland's education system delivers the most it can for every one of our young people, with additional support and guidance for those who need it.

However, the responsibility for bringing A Curriculum for Excellence to life is a shared one. Effective reform must come from local authorities taking ownership and working with schools, teachers and other partners. It is teachers and others working directly with young people who are best placed to meet the needs of individual learners. But school leaders and local authorities have a responsibility to provide support in helping them deliver.

Recently, the OECD review highlighted the key influence of a child's social background in deciding their pathway to the future. By bringing together and integrating support across all services, we can address poverty, deprivation and health inequalities, which contribute to underachievement.

Through key policies, such as the early years framework, More Choices, More Chances and A Curriculum for Excellence, combined with work to improve outcomes for looked-after children, we want to share opportunities and provide support to all young people.

Our aim is to help all young people in Scotland to take their place in a modern society and economy. ACfE will play a significant role in achieving this. It will provide a framework for them to gain the knowledge and skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work that they need.

At next week's event, we will be launching Building the Curriculum 3: A Framework for Learning and Teaching, which is relevant for all those involved in promoting effective learning for people from 3-18. It replaces existing guidance on the 3-5 and 5-14 curriculums and curriculum design in the secondary sector, and it will be complemented by further advice, guidance and exemplification.

To meet our ambition of creating an education system which embraces all abilities and improves outcomes for all young people, we need a robust qualifications system that supports the aspirations of A Curriculum for Excellence, which is why we have announced the consultation on our "next generation" of qualifications.

There is no doubt we are entering one of the most dynamic times in Scottish education. With the momentum we have created behind us, we are determined that every young person's abilities will be to the fore.

Fiona Hyslop is Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.

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