If you prepare to succeed, you will

13th June 2008 at 01:00
Now is the time for teachers and authorities to implement A Curriculum for Excellence if it is to triumph
Now is the time for teachers and authorities to implement A Curriculum for Excellence if it is to triumph

Teachers and local authorities must stop complaining about A Curriculum for Excellence and start putting it into practice over the next three years.

That was the clear message from Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop this week, after a forceful speech in which she identified teachers' "ingenuity" as key to the new curriculum's success.

"You can't complain when you get what you ask for," said Ms Hyslop, when quizzed afterwards about a perceived lack of guidance for teachers.

She warned that negativity about the new curriculum could hinder its chances of success: "I think if you live in a society that prepares to fail, you will fail; if you live in a society that prepares to succeed, you will succeed."

Teachers who were frustrated by the "suffocation" of the 5-14 curriculum now had a way out - but they had to take responsibility themselves and should not be waiting for a signal to do so.

"Effective reform must come from local authorities taking ownership, working with schools, teachers and other partners," Ms Hyslop said in her speech.

"Teachers need time to reflect and share ideas and practice; local authorities have a responsibility to provide that support.

"The introduction of A Curriculum for Excellence will not be a big bang, but will be built up gradually over the next three years."

She did accept that more guidance and support was needed, particularly in assessment.

Ms Hyslop spoke at All Bar None, a conference in Glasgow this week that also saw the launch of Building the Curriculum 3 for those planning the new curriculum, and the formal consultation on the replacement for Standard grade and Intermediate qualifications.

David Cameron, vice-president of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, was impressed. "There has been a clamour for clear leadership and direction, and she has provided that, undoubtedly."

He thought she had struck a good balance between driving the curriculum forward and leaving teachers and local authorities space to innovate. "Local authorities and headteachers have got to take responsibility for development," he added.

Brian Cooklin, president of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland, stressed that teachers were not asking for detailed direction on how to implement the curriculum - but there was a "fundamental need" for reassurance that they were going about things the right way.

"That's the feeling that the profession relays to me at every opportunity," he said.

He mooted the idea of a roadshow led by a member of the group that originally developed A Curriculum for Excellence, covering the philosophy behind it and examples of good practice.

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