Share vision in ACfE implementation

24th July 2009 at 01:00

Keir Bloomer's comments on A Curriculum for Excellence are, as ever, helpful and stimulating (TESS last week).

However, much of what he succeeds in doing is setting out the agenda which the implementation partnership, led by the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, has tried to put into practice.

The partnership has been very keen to promote the view that ACfE is a response to the unparalleled challenges facing young people and other learners in the 21st century. We have stressed continually that, in a changing world, the primacy has to lie with the ability to learn rather than with what learners might come to know.

It is that big picture which we have tried consistently to move forward through the partnership. We would accept that more needs to be done to engage parents, employers and others outwith the immediate profession, but that work is now ongoing.

It is interesting that he highlights the need to build capacity for change at teacher and school level. We recognise it is what happens in classrooms that generates effective change, so unless we build capacity for such change at all levels, ACfE will revert to being the more traditional curricular reform which Keir fears.

We have begun to identify "early adopters" among schools willing to take a lead, and this is exemplified on the Learning and Teaching Scotland website. We also are trying to move towards a system where, as Keir urges us, we assess the skills we claim to value.

Finally, the suggestion that we need to explore a curriculum which is "more intellectually ambitious, with an emphasis on higher order skills" is at the crux of A Curriculum for Excellence.

There is a challenge for all of us in developing an initiative which is not top down or driven from the centre: it makes it difficult to move forwards on a lock-step basis with the same levels of direction we may have for other developments.

All this simply underscores Keir's point that, by building teacher capacity, establishing clear values and having certainty about the bigger picture, we have the only means at our disposal to ensure it is effectively implemented.

It is my belief that the original vision of Keir and his colleagues has not been lost, although it may have been threatened. Rather than being in opposition over this, Keir is very much in harmony with the approach being taken. He would be welcome to join us in the implementation partnership to share his vision, and then perhaps we could establish just how much difference there really is between us.

David Cameron, president, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland.

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