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Curriculum for Excellence: Building the Curriculum 3: A Framework for Learning and Teaching

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entitlements for all children and young people

1. Every child and young person is entitled to experience a curriculum which is coherent from 3 to 18

All children and young people have an entitlement to a curriculum which they experience as a coherent whole, with smooth and well-paced progression through the experiences and outcomes, particularly across transitions, for example from pre-school to primary or from secondary school to college. Those planning the curriculum have a responsibility to plan, in partnership with others involved in learning, how they will jointly enable children to move smoothly between establishments, building on prior learning and achievement in a manner appropriate to the learning needs of the individual. This includes liaison between establishments where children and young people change schools at times other than the 'standard' transitions. The transition from the period of compulsory education to positive and sustained destinations needs very careful planning in conjunction with appropriate partners for each individual young person.

The health and wellbeing experiences and outcomes address more fully the theme of planning for the changes which a young person may experience and support for making choices.

2. Every child and young person is entitled to experience a broad general education

All children and young people in Scotland have an entitlement to a curriculum which will support them in developing their values and beliefs and enable them to:

  • achieve the highest possible levels of literacy and numeracy and cognitive skills
  • develop skills for life and skills for work
  • develop knowledge and understanding of society, the world and Scotland's place in it
  • experience challenge and success

so that they can develop well-informed views and act responsibly. They should be encouraged to adopt an active and healthy lifestyle and be equipped with the skills needed for planning their future lives and careers. The period of education from pre-school to the end of S3 has the particular purpose of providing each young person in Scotland with this broad general education. Those involved in planning the curriculum, including partners, should be conscious of the positive role which experiences and learning connected with culture, art, music and drama can have in providing a basis for developing the four capacities and for providing innovative approaches to learning across other areas of the curriculum.

A broad general education will include all 6 of the experiences and outcomes across all curriculum areas to and including _the third level. These should be experienced by all pupils, as far as this is consistent with their learning needs and prior achievements. The arrangements for assessment should enable and motivate learners to develop to their fullest across the four capacities. Most learners will progress into the fourth level in many aspects of their learning before the end of S3, laying strong foundations for more specialised learning, qualifications and lifelong learning. For those learners whose needs are best met through learning at levels below the fourth level, the framework provides the opportunity to build on their prior learning and provide breadth, depth and enrichment.

3. Every young person is entitled to experience a senior phase where he or she can continue to develop the four capacities and also obtain qualifications

All young people in Scotland have an entitlement to a senior phase of education which:

  • provides specialisation, depth and rigour
  • prepares them well for achieving qualifications to the highest level of which they are capable
  • continues to develop skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work
  • continues to provide a range of activities which develop the four capacities
  • supports them to achieve a positive and sustained destination

The senior phase, which takes place from S4 to S6 in schools and includes ages 16 to 18 out of school, is the phase when the young person will build up a portfolio of qualifications. It is the stage of education at which the relationship between the curriculum and National Qualifications becomes of key significance. The curriculum framework and the qualifications system will provide a range of opportunities to meet the needs of all learners, whether aspiring to achievements at SCQF level 1 or at SCQF level 7.

The curriculum in the senior phase comprises more than programmes which lead to qualifications. There is a continuing emphasis, for example, on health and wellbeing appropriate to this phase, including physical activity and opportunities for personal achievement, service to others and practical experience of the world of work.

4. Every child and young person is entitled to develop skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work, with a continuous focus on literacy and numeracy and health and wellbeing

Curriculum for Excellence will support all children and young people in developing skills which they will use throughout their life and in their work, including the development of pre-vocational, enterprising and employability skills, personal skills, high levels of cognitive skills and the opportunity to put learning into a practical context. These skills for life and skills for work are embedded across all curriculum areas and include learning which falls within a broad definition of 'vocational': that is learning which is generally about the development of pre-vocational and employability skills which will be made use of in future working life.

A strong focus on literacy and numeracy is essential: all children and young people require these skills to gain access to learning and to succeed in life. Confidence and competence in literacy and numeracy provides the foundations for lifelong learning. Numeracy across the Curriculum and Literacy across the Curriculum explore how staff might review and develop approaches to learning and teaching in numeracy and literacy across the curriculum.

The health and wellbeing experiences and outcomes include a range of opportunities to develop skills for life and skills for work, including working effectively with other people and career planning. These experiences and outcomes also include opportunities to develop a range of skills and attributes that will enable children and young people to pursue a healthy and active lifestyle. The health and wellbeing experiences and outcomes include guidance ( Health and wellbeing for all) that explores how all staff might review and develop these skills across the curriculum.

Making the link between the classroom and workplace can help young people to see the relevance of their learning and understand the contribution that they can make to their schools and colleges, to their community and to the economy. They can feel valued and involved and experience challenge and enjoyment; their confidence can increase with, potentially, a positive impact on their levels of attainment and achievement. Children and young people should have opportunities to:

  • build knowledge and understanding of the workplace, what employers may expect of them and what they should expect from employment
  • experience enterprising activities and an enterprising culture
  • have access to more specific opportunities for learning through Skills for Work courses or other vocationally relevant qualifications

and so enable them to develop the skills, confidence and abilities to become the employees, employers and entrepreneurs of the future. All young people can benefit from such learning and this should be reflected in the planning of the curriculum. This planning should involve all partners and ensure that these activities are not bolted on but are part of a coherent whole.

5. Every child and young person is entitled to personal support to enable them to gain as much as possible from the opportunities which Curriculum for Excellence can provide

Supporting children and young people in their learning involves a range of people - parents and carers, nursery teachers and nurses, primary teachers, secondary teachers, support staff, college staff, psychological services, Skills Development Scotland, volunteers and workers from voluntary organisations and local authority youth work provision. It is important to work in partnership to "get it right for every child". Children and young people are entitled to personal support to enable them to

  • review their learning and plan for next steps
  • gain access to learning activities which will meet their needs
  • plan for opportunities for personal achievement
  • prepare for changes and choices and be supported through changes and choices

All children and young people should have frequent and regular opportunities to discuss their learning with an adult who knows them well and can act as a mentor, helping them to set appropriate goals for the next stages in learning. This provides opportunities to challenge young people's choices, which may be based on stereotypes. Young people themselves should be at the centre of this planning, as active participants in their learning and development.

To ensure that Curriculum for Excellence is a curriculum for all children and young people, it is essential that support is provided to remove barriers that might restrict their access to the curriculum because of their circumstances or short or longer term needs. For children who need additional support for their learning, this may involve interpretation of the curriculum in ways which address their particular needs and enable them to achieve to the highest levels of which they are capable. This may include planning for enrichment of learning within a particular level, rather than applying pressure to progress to a new level of cognitive development where this is inappropriate. Enrichment of learning through exploration of different contexts may, in some circumstances, also be an effective way of meeting very able pupils' needs at some points.

All children and young people should experience personalisation and choice within their curriculum, including identifying and planning for opportunities for personal achievement in a range of different contexts. This implies taking an interest in learners as individuals, with their own talents and interests.

All establishments will work with a range of partners to address the needs of all children and young people and provide motivating and challenging opportunities, particularly for those who may require more choices, more chances. Action to address the needs of learners requires an integrated approach across children's and young people's services with strong links to community learning and development and community regeneration. Wherever a child or young person of compulsory school age may be undertaking learning activities, the school retains the responsibility for planning, with its partners, the most appropriate educational provision for that child or young person and for ensuring that his or her development and progress are regularly reviewed. Partner organisations will need to share an understanding of the experiences and outcomes to which they are contributing.

All staff share a responsibility for identifying the needs, including care and welfare needs, of children and young people and working in partnership to put support in place to meet those needs. With this in mind, the health and wellbeing framework identifies experiences and outcomes which are the responsibility of all practitioners. Happy, Safe and Achieving their Potential described standards of support for children and young people in Scottish schools. These standards continue to be important and establishments will need to plan to ensure that all children and young people receive the personal support which they require to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. Key pieces of legislation and national guidance that seek to identify and help to meet support needs of children and young people are referenced in Annex A.

6. Every young person is entitled to support in moving into a positive and sustained destination

The success of the education system will be judged on the extent to which it contributes to the national indicator on positive and sustained destinations. Skills for Scotland makes clear the Scottish Government's desire for all young people to stay in learning after 16. It makes a clear commitment to young people about the routes on offer to education, employment and training (and the support they can expect) and recognises the need to focus on particularly vulnerable groups of young people.

The OECD Review recognised that for higher attaining young people the post school transition to further or higher education is fairly straightforward but that for weaker learners there were more complex and uncertain pathways.

16+ Learning Choices is the new model for taking forward the Skills for Scotland commitment. This model will ensure that there are clear, robust processes in place for ensuring that all young people completing compulsory education have an offer of a suitable place in post-16 learning, with a particular focus on providing more choices and chances for those who need them. As such it will support the planning and delivery of a coherent and inclusive curriculum in the senior phase, irrespective of the setting.

There are three crucial elements to ensure that this happens: young people must have access to the right learning provision - which includes opportunities to continue to develop the four capacities through staying on at school, entering further or higher education, taking part in a national training programme, volunteering, participating in community learning and development, or following a more tailored programme of personal and social development. Young people must also have the right information, advice and guidance from Skills Development Scotland and other support agencies to help them make the right choices. Some may need ongoing support to help them sustain and progress their learning. Young people must also be able to access financial support so that staying in learning is a viable option.

The aim is to have the model in place across Scotland for all young people by December 2010. A number of 'early implementers' have been identified who will start to implement 16+ Learning Choices from December 2008.

Local authorities and schools are responsible for planning and supporting young people to make successful transitions to young adulthood and the world of work. This includes ensuring that transition arrangements for young people with specific additional support needs comply with the appropriate code of practice. Within Skills Development Scotland, Careers Scotland also plays a crucial role by providing information, advice and guidance and focussed, sustained support for targeted young people, including those making the transition from children's to adult services.

Reflective Questions

  • What challenges do you face in adapting your current curriculum structures to meeting the entitlements detailed in this section?
  • How can you best work with other sectors and other partner agencies to develop a coherent and inclusive curriculum?
  • What initiatives have you undertaken to develop skills in the curriculum and what barriers need to be overcome to embed and extend these?
  • How might you develop your existing structures to provide the personal support that will help young people plan their learning in the most appropriate way?
  • What additional support might vulnerable young people, including looked after children and young people and care leavers, need? How could you involve other learning partners e.g. Community Learning and Development, voluntary agencies etc. in supporting your young people?
  • What are the planning and delivery implications of providing young people with opportunities and support to stay in learning after 16?