Sending in cavalry won't help curriculum

21st May 2010 at 01:00

The announcement that all secondary school inspections were to be suspended later this year to allow inspectors to work on the curriculum reforms is a panic measure.

Teachers' survey responses show they have lost confidence in the ability of the Scottish Government or the management board to implement Curriculum for Excellence successfully. In desperation, Education Secretary Michael Russell has taken the unprecedented step of redeploying the inspectorate to force through the reform. But this is too little, too late: it simply underlines the scale of the SNP Government's mismanagement of the implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence.

Inspectors are being asked to act as advisers, but the surveys didn't flag up a burning need for advice. What teachers want is hard information about assessment criteria, clear guidance about programme expectations, time for development, and assurances that course materials and resources for professional development will be available.

A roving band of inspectors giving masterclasses does not give teachers what they say they need. Mr Russell is papering over the cracks, not dealing with the problems. Inspectors can't deliver CfE; that responsibility rests with the teachers.

By telling the inspectorate to suspend inspections and set aside their other responsibilities, such as progressing government policy on bullying in schools, the Government is effectively abandoning its commitments to monitor the state of school buildings or improving school standards. The Government is desperate, as the evidence of its mismanagement of the implementation of CfE accumulates, to be seen to be doing something.

To stop HMIE from doing its normal job, and send the inspectors in as the cavalry to "rescue" the Curriculum for Excellence, just shows how bad things have become. It will make little difference in terms of getting CfE back on track.

Des McNulty, Labour education spokesman, Scottish Parliament.

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