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Preparing for the new school curriculum


Teachers across Scotland are to receive one additional day's training a year over the next three years to help introduce the new school curriculum.

In addition to the extra year for preparation for Curriculum for Excellence, councils will be allowed to provide an extra day in service specifically devoted to Curriculum for Excellence.

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Fiona Hyslop made the announcement during a debate on the new National Qualifications being proposed by the Government and which it is expected will come on-stream in summer 2014.

The extra year also allows additional time for Curriculum for Excellence to be fully implemented with development opportunities for quality training.

Ms Hyslop said:

"Curriculum for Excellence provides the opportunity to improve the educational experience of all of Scotland's young people and ensure that our young people are equipped with the skills required for the modern world. We need to ensure that we get implementation right.

"That requires time: time for teachers and schools to engage in dialogue around implementing Curriculum for Excellence; time for individual class teachers to consider how their classroom practice needs to change and time for discussion within schools and across whole school communities around the new curriculum and how to maximise the educational experience and the individualised learning of Scotland's young people."

There are currently five existing in-service days plus other time for continued professional development which Directors of Education and Headteachers are expected to use to support the development of Curriculum for Excellence.

Ms Hyslop is making provision for teachers across Scotland to have one extra in-service day this school year and for the next two school years - three extra in-service days in total and that that time should be explicitly allocated for Curriculum for Excellence preparation.

She said:

"It is essential that we devote the correct amount of development time to introducing this major change in teaching and learning. In addition to the existing and planned provision an additional day will be provided to teachers. This time will afford teachers and schools sustained extra time to ensure they are prepared for the delivery of the new curriculum over the most crucial period of its implementation."

"Curriculum for Excellence is about far more than just the content of the curriculum and extends well beyond schools. The impact of this change will be far-reaching. It is not a centralised or top-down initiative. To achieve these ambitious goals effectively, teachers need support and challenge from all concerned, including parents, employers, further and higher education, local authorities, HMIE and the Scottish Government.

"Curriculum for Excellence must be implemented properly and with confidence to achieve a quality reform so that all children are given the best foundations in school for learning."

David Cameron, president of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES), said:

"ADES welcomes this commitment made by the Cabinet Secretary to encourage and support the implementation of a Curriculum for Excellence. This is an appropriate response to concerns about staff development for this vital reform programme. We now need to make sure that we take full advantage of this opportunity

Larry Flanagan, Education Convener of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), said:

"The EIS warmly welcomes these additional in-service days as a contribution to meeting the development demands associated with Curriculum for Excellence. Curriculum for Excellence offers us the opportunity to enhance the life chances of young people and it is in everyone's interest to ensure that it succeeds."

Curriculum for Excellence aims to provide seamless education from age three to 18 and is taking a fresh look at what is taught in schools and how. School pupils are already seeing changes in their classrooms through the groundwork that has been ongoing since 2004. The draft outcomes provide further tools for teachers. The plans are being firmed up in this school year and in 2009-2010 all schools across Scotland will be working on delivery.

The aims of the new curriculum and qualifications are to:

Return professional autonomy and engender greater responsibility of teachers for the learning and teaching which takes place in their classroom.

  • Encourage breadth of experience throughout education
  • Reduce over-assessment providing more time for quality teaching and learning.
  • Teaching and learning to draw out the strengths of each pupil with more personalised learning
  • Greater coherence and progression of education supported by the qualifications system
  • Literacy and numeracy embedded at all stages and for the first time under devolution the requirement for all teachers of all subjects in all stages to be responsible for literacy and numeracy
  • A progressive educational experience with a greater focus on skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work

Local authorities will be exempted in terms of the section 133(4) of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 Act from the provisions in Section 5 of the Schools General (Scotland) Regulations 1975 requiring schools to be open to pupils for 190 days per year to allow one extra days closure for each of the three years specifically for Curriculum for Excellence preparation. It is for each authority to determine when best to take the extra in-service day each year. Doing so reflects existing practice whereby authorities determine their own school holidays.

The Curriculum for Excellence Management Board comprises: Scottish School Teachers' Association, Scottish Qualifications Authority, Skills Development Scotland, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, HMIE, Educational Institute of Scotland, Association of Scotland's Colleges, Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland, Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, Learning Teaching Scotland, The Deans of Education Faculties/Departments, School Leaders Scotland and Scottish Council of Independent Schools.

The consultation focused on four areas:

  • Introduction of new awards in literacy and numeracy.
  • Introduction of a new general qualification to replace Standard Grade (General and Credit) and Intermediate 1 and 2. Standard Grade Foundation would be removed.
  • Retention of Access, Highers and Advanced Highers with a review of the content of all National Qualifications to ensure consistency with Curriculum for Excellence.
  • Provide a range of opportunities to meet the needs of all young people

The consultation on the new qualifications closed in October when the Cabinet Secretary announced there would be a shift in the start of the revised qualification system by one year to ensure that teachers would have more opportunity to develop quality preparation for its delivery.