Anational forum representing school leaders' organisations should be formed to deliver Curriculum for Excellence, the director of education in Fife told secondary heads last week.
Ken Greer suggested that Education Leaders Scotland would be a suitable name for a forum which allowed leaders to take a national perspective, rather than just a local one. "That is the only way that collectively we will get a Curriculum for Excellence which has continuity and is shared across the country - an idea that is already out there in the Donaldson report, where it talks about the need to capture the best of current practice and stimulate its wider dissemination," he told the annual conference of School Leaders Scotland last week at St Andrews.
Mr Greer identified eight areas of education in Scotland which had "aye been broken". To fix them, local authorities and heads had to work in partnership on CfE in a way that gave heads real responsibility, he said.
The areas were:
spending priorities: up to the age of three was the most sensitive period for brain development, yet the most deprived saw the lowest spend at this stage while the highest spend in education was in higher education, on the least deprived;
S1-2 lack of progression - a problem first identified in 1947;
lack of consistency and quality within schools;
the unacceptable gap between the lowest and highest achieving - a problem that is "exaggerated" in the UK but much narrower in Holland, where children are also much happier;
lack of parity of esteem between vocational and academic study;
lack of match between employers' and the higher education sector's expectations and school leavers' skills and experience;
need for even better teaching and learning;
certain subjects, as identified by the Scottish Government: science and engineering, modern languages, literacy, numeracy, history, and additional support for learning.
"Can we fix them?" asked Mr Greer. "We need tools but we have not any money to buy new tools, so we have to be innovative."
"It might be healthy to have a national target to raise the reading standards of the 20 per cent most disadvantaged pupils . a good incentive; not all incentives are perverse."
Bill Maxwell, transitional chief executive, Education Scotland
"Keep the boring dinosaurs away from the kids. They do more damage coming into your school and boring the pants off kids."
Peter Hughes, chief executive, Scottish Engineering
"We need to get universities to think about Scotland as a flexible environment. We have to have detailed engagement with universities to look at different patterns."
Janet Brown, SQA chief executive, on the senior phase and articulation with university.