Review of Curriculum

Remit published on OECD-led review

An independent review of the school curriculum must not be a ‘distraction’ from work to close the poverty-related attainment gap, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said.

The remit for the OECD-led review, due to report in February 2021, has been published. It will consider the design and flexibility of Curriculum for Excellence, how pupils move through school into the senior phase and how teachers are supported.

Addressing headteachers and key education leaders at Wester Hailes Education Centre, Deputy First Minister John Swinney underlined the progress made in closing the attainment gap through the Scottish Attainment Challenge.

Mr Swinney said:

“The Scottish Attainment Challenge works. Headteachers are seeing improvements in closing the poverty-related attainment gap, attainment is rising across the broad general education - and a record proportion of school leavers are going into further or higher education, work or training.

“Around the country, I see inclusive and inventive approaches to engage young people in and beyond school, and greater evidence of schools and local authorities collaborating with a wider range of partners.

“The OECD review will look at the breadth, depth and flexibility of Curriculum for Excellence. I firmly believe that Curriculum for Excellence is the right approach and we will set up a Scottish Practitioner Forum to capture the views and experience of professionals working with young people. The voice of young people will also be an important part of the review.

“While every education system must be open to further improvement, I am also clear the review should not be a distraction or create uncertainty. This is a review of the curriculum, not Scottish education. We have embarked on reforms that are working to close the attainment gap, raise standards and are sustainable for the long term. There is still much to do, but I believe we are on the right track.”


The First Minister launched the Scottish Attainment Challenge in February 2015 to help close the poverty-related attainment gap in Scotland. The Attainment Scotland Fund was established to support the Scottish Attainment Challenge in 2015. This is a £750 million commitment over the course of this parliamentary term.

Attainment Scotland Fund interim evaluation (year 3)

Headteacher Survey 2018 

Attainment Scotland Fund Evaluation: School Case Studies

The remit of the review of curriculum is available at:

It includes:

  • Curriculum design – considering how the curriculum is being designed locally and used flexibly to meet the needs of all learners and how well the curriculum design principles are being used to support learning and achievement, including collaboration with colleges and other partners.
  • Depth and Breadth of learning in the Senior Phase – looking at the extent to which the changes to pedagogy anticipated with CfE have been achieved within the Senior Phase and considering how well practitioners have been supported in understanding the aims of CfE and the impact of different approaches to learning, teaching and assessment. This will include the impact of qualifications on pedagogy.
  • Local flexibility versus increased prescription – assessing the equity of the offer for all young people through flexibility to meet local needs, as envisaged by CfE, or whether there is a case for developing a more detailed framework with scope for local flexibility. Identifying whether or not we need greater consistency in aspects of the delivery of the curriculum.
  • The transition from the Broad General Education (BGE) into Senior Phase – considering how effectively S3 is being used as a transition year in preparing young people for the Senior Phase and the articulation between the BGE and Senior Phase.
  • Vocational and academic learning and awards – assessing the extent to which parity of esteem is being achieved in relation to the different learning pathways.
  • Roles and responsibilities in relation to the curriculum  – looking at how, where and when key decisions are made and the role of national agencies in providing support and guidance in relation to the curriculum.


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