The other morning I was on my way to a meeting of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) Curriculum for Excellence Implementation Partnership the day after the big will-we-won't-we CfE management board meeting. The Glasgow cabbie asked me what my conference was about and I blandly replied "education", thinking that would be the end of it. Little did I realise. He said there had been loads going on in the news, and what was it all about?
I tried to explain that these changes were already under way in schools but it was coming to the point where exams would be changing and some secondary teachers wanted to delay that. Changing the exams could be a disaster, he said, as his daughter had suffered under Higher Still. I explained there was a lot of unfinished business there and the qualifications system needed to be tidied up. I also suggested that if we're changing what we're doing in the classrooms, we need to revise the exams system to allow for it.
He wanted to know how things were changing in the classrooms. I went with the skills line, suggesting that the school system is primarily set up for those heading for university and much of what is learnt, and how, does not seem relevant to many young people. He had heard about a school where the class was having football coaching in French, so they were learning French and improving their football at the same time and having fun - was this the sort of thing the new curriculum was about? To which I, of course, said yes.
I pointed out that the new curriculum aims to give teachers the freedom to be more creative and make learning more relevant and fun. He agreed they are too weighed down by bureaucracy and should have more freedom.
I really felt that by the time we arrived at the venue, I'd won him round. I was quite shocked that I'd been able to explain it all and counter his points so easily off the cuff. Perhaps it's really not as complex as it sometimes seems to be?
Fearghal Kelly, development officer for Curriculum for Excellence, East Lothian.