Time to get motivated about ACfE

4th April 2008 at 01:00
It was not entirely a surprise to read your report (March 14) of the evidence presented to parliament on A Curriculum for Excellence. In my outgoing presidential address in November at the annual conference of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, I expressed frustration over the progress that has been made with an initiative which has taken some strange turns since the departure of the minister who set it on course, Peter Peacock.

We could, in true Scottish fashion, look for scapegoats and point the finger of blame, but such energy needs to be redirected into this crucially important national reform programme.

Some of us can remember the education debate and the consensus on why we needed, and still do need, curriculum reform. That consensus still exists across the spectrum and there is, without doubt, exceptional work taking place in those schools which are delivering A Curriculum for Excellence.

While I understand calls for improved communication, I cannot subscribe to a top-down model that would disenfranchise teachers from taking the initiative in their classrooms. ACfE must be grounded in Scotland's classrooms and focused on learning and learners, encourage distributed leadership to empower change, and engage professionals, parents and learners.

Aberdeenshire has a particular approach, which reaches practitioners and engages them in the development of A Curriculum for Excellence through our ACfE network representatives. Over the last year in Aberdeenshire, I have seen some wonderful practice and had fascinating conversations with young people and their parents on what they feel it should look like. I am clear that, despite the stuttering national direction, there is still a prize out there for us all to grasp.

Give us the broad national framework, sort the issues of assessment and qualifications in the near future without political posturing, and trust and encourage the education community to deliver a 21st-century curriculum for 21st-century Scotland.

Bruce Robertson, director of education, learning and leisure, Aberdeenshire Council.

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