Information

Curriculum and Assessment Board minutes: June 2020

Minutes, agenda and supporting papers from the eleventh meeting of the Curriculum and Assessment Board, held on 26 June 2020.


Attendees and apologies

Members and Substitutes

  • Steven Quinn, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Tim Wallace, Association of Heads and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS)
  • Jim Metcalfe, College Development Network
  • Ken Thomson, Colleges Scotland
  • Robert Hynd, Community Learning and Development Managers Scotland
  • Jane Brumpton , Early Years Scotland
  • Andrea Bradley, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • Gayle Gorman, Education Scotland (Chair)
  • Alan Armstrong , Education Scotland
  • Mike Corbett, NASUWT
  • Joanna Murphy , National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS)
  • Mhairi Shaw, Regional Improvement Collaboratives
  • Graham Hutton, School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • John Edward, Scottish Council for Independent Schools (SCIS)
  • Dee Bird, Scottish Funding Council (SFC)
  • Graeme Logan, Scottish Government
  • Jonathan Sewell, Scottish Government
  • Paul Fagan, Scottish Government
  • John Guidi, Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA)
  • Liz McGrath , Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
  • James Russell, Skills Development Scotland (SDS)
  • Brian Green, Universities Scotland
  • Louise Hayward, University of Glasgow

Secretariat

  • Liam Cahill , Scottish Government
  • Emma Mair, Scottish Government

Additional Attendees

  • Julie Anderson, Scottish Government
  • Maggie Young , Scottish Government

Apologies

  • Peter McNaughton, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Nicola Dickie, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA)
  • David Barnett, School Leaders Scotland
  • Linda Pooley, Scottish Government
  • Aileen Ponton, Scottish Credit and Qualifications Partnership (SCQF)
  • Seamus Searson, Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA)
  • Gill Stewart, Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
  • Neville Prentice, Skills Development Scotland (SDS)
  • Mark Priestley, University of Stirling

Items and actions

1. Welcome and introductions

1.1      The Chair welcomed board members to the meeting and apologies were noted as above.  

2. Minute and actions arising from the last meeting

2.1 The minute and actions from the Board’s last two meetings on 4 December 2019 and 20 February 2020 were introduced.

2.2 The following comments were made in relation to the Board’s February meeting:

  • Larry Flanagan should be recorded as the EIS representative at the meeting instead of Andrea Bradley.
  • Brian Green should be recorded as attending on behalf of Universities Scotland.

3.3 The minutes of the Board’s December 2019 and February 2020 meetings were agreed.

Action: The Board’s secretariat to ensure that the minute of CAB meeting from 20 February 2020 shows Larry Flanagan and Brian Green in attendance.

3.  Progress on planning for the ‘recovery curriculum’

3.1 The Chair introduced the agenda item and handed over to Alan Armstrong (AA) who provided an overview of work to develop and publish guidance on curriculum design and delivery during the Covid-19 education recovery phase. AA noted that there was a change in circumstances as the Scottish Government was now operating on a planning assumption that a blended learning approach would not be required when schools return on 11 August.

3.2 AA invited comments from attendees and the following were offered.

  • The guidance on Curriculum for Excellence in the recovery phase, which was published by the Scottish Government on 5 June 2020, contains a strong direction that the health and wellbeing of learners should be prioritised in the recovery phase. This still remains relevant whether a blended model is adopted or not.
  • The focus within the guidance on the utilisation of local flexibility is welcome as there needs to be an acknowledgement that things cannot return exactly as they were before.
  • It was noted that the National Parent Forum of Scotland produced a guide for parents on curriculum design and delivery in the recovery phase. It was agreed that the guidance should be circulated around CAB members.

 3.3 NASUWT wished to formally record their disappointment that they were not involved in workstream 3 of the Covid-19 Education Recovery Group, which focussed on curriculum and assessment.

3.4 The chair summed up discussions and noted continued support from attendees for the guidance on Curriculum for Excellence in the recovery phase including:

  • particular support for the prioritisation of health and wellbeing;
  • the need to develop curriculum models in cognisance that learning cannot return to the way it was before the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • the need to encourage continued local flexibility in curriculum design;
  • a requirement to issue an update to the current guidance should there be a formal decision that schools will return without a blended model on 11 August.

Action: The Board’s secretariat to circulate the NPFS parent guidance on the ‘recovery curriculum’ to all Curriculum and Assessment Board members.

Action: The Scottish Government and Education Scotland to ensure that revised guidance on curriculum design in the recovery phase is issued should a formal decision be made that schools will return without a blended model on 11 August.

4. Feedback from NASUWT on assessment roundtable sessions

4.1 The chair introduced the agenda item and handed over to Mike Corbett (MC) who provided attendees with the background to the associated paper and roundtable sessions at which NASUWT members discussed assessment across the 3-18 learner journey.

4.2 MC noted specific challenges raised in relation to:

  • clarity on what constitutes achievement of a CfE level;
  • decluttering the broad general education;
  • the role of S3 in relation to the articulation between the broad general education and the senior phase;
  • presentation for national qualifications; and
  • the impact of an increase in the number of learners with additional support needs.

4.3 MC suggested that some of the topics raised could be reflected in the Board’s work plan but also asked attendees how these challenges could be addressed. The following comments were made:

  • The ask for more prescription in relation to assessment could potentially dilute the flexibility of Curriculum for Excellence. However, others thought that there was still too much inconsistency caused by a lack of clear guidance.
  • Supporting practitioners to undertake professional learning in curriculum design and development could address some of the challenges. For example, the identification and use of the principles of curriculum design.
  • There could be a role for the regional improvement collaboratives in addressing some of these challenges.
  • It is worth the board keeping an eye on all of these challenges but there is a need to look at this evidence alongside other relevant evidence. For example. National Improvement Framework (NIF) data suggests that practitioners are getting better at assessing curriculum levels.
  • The role of S3 has been debated numerous times and consensus can be difficult to reach. However, the key consideration is that young people experience a progression in learning throughout the BGE and senior phase.

3.5 In summing up discussion there was an acknowledgement that many of these challenges may be touched upon as part of the OECD-led review of Curriculum for Excellence. It may be prudent to wait until on the review’s findings before deciding how to address each challenge.   

5.  Assessment of national qualifications in 2020/21

5.1 The Chair introduced the agenda item and paper CAB-11(01). The chair noted that the paper pre-dated the Deputy First Minister’s announcement on a planned return of full time schooling in August. The chair then handed over to Jonathan Sewell (JS) who provided further background.

5.2 JS highlighted that the paper addressed a range of challenges when considering the assessment of National Qualifications next year including uncertainty around teaching time and the need to maintain the integrity of awards. JS then asked for board member’s views. The following comments were offered:

  • It was a frustration for many in the education system that there didn’t yet appear to be a firm plan in place for assessment of national qualification in 2020/21. It was noted that it was very difficult for teachers to plan adequately without clarity on this issue.
  • It was noted that the Scottish Government’s planning assumption is that the 2020/21 diet will go ahead as usual but work has been progressing and a number of alternative options have been considered. These alternative options have not been communicated to the wider education system as this could cause confusion – especially if it transpired that contingency plans are not required.
  • Conversely there was a view that alternative options should be communicated to the system to help various partners plan their work over the year ahead.
  • There was a feeling that any planned changes to assessment of national qualification in 2020/21 may cause a disproportionate increase in workload for teachers and that the SQA were not doing enough to reduce the impact on teachers.
  • Some felt that there should not be exams at S4 in 2020/21 but that consideration should be given to how we accommodate the approximately 10% of learners who will leave at the end of S4. However, others felt that there should be S4 exams as many learners will be ready to take them.
  • There were other views that Higher and Advanced Higher exams should be streamlined and that all learners should receive a graded outcome.
  • There needs to be consideration of contingency measures for possible future local lockdowns.  
  • It was argued that it is imperative that we deliver fairness for all learners no matter what approach to assessment is taken but this appeared very difficult to achieve in the circumstances.
  • Communication to teachers needs to improve including in relation to how they should gather evidence for qualifications going forward.
  • There was an ask that an equality impact assessment be carried out on plans for next year’s diet.
  • SQA stated that they are continuing to work hard to provide clarity at an appropriate speed amidst changing circumstances. It was noted that the issues at hand were complex and this had contributed to difficulties in providing clarity in some instances.
  • There was a recognition that this is a difficult decision with no obvious answer, and whichever approach is taken will likely face some criticism.
  • There was an ask that consideration was given to all qualifications and awards across the senior phase as work is taken forward in this area. Awards outside SQA national qualifications still remain relevant and clarity should also be provided in respect of them. SQA stated they have been liaising with Skills Development Scotland in an effort to secure consistency of approach across awards.
  • It was also noted that the more changes that are made to the assessment of national qualifications the higher the risk that the integrity of the awards and the fairness to young people across previous years is not maintained.
  • A number of stakeholders noted that there may also need to be further consideration of the approach to assessing national qualifications in future.

5.3 In summing up the discussion it was noted that there were calls for clear messages to be provided to the education system; the delivery of fairness to all learners; and the need to make decisions and progress work quickly. Whilst there were questions raised about some elements of the preferred solution identified in the associated paper, it was generally agreed that the elements should be considered further.

Action: The Scottish Government to work with relevant partners to further consider the preferred approach to assessment of national qualifications in 2020/21 in line with Curriculum and Assessment Board feedback.

6. Curriculum for Excellence review

6.1 The chair introduced the agenda item and handed over the Julie Anderson (JA). JA provided a verbal update on the progress of the review including details of the revised timeline for the review in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, an update on work to develop an initial evidence base for the OECD and plans to establish a Scottish practitioner forum.

6.2 JA invited comments from attendees and in response it was suggested that community learning and development continues to be considered during the review.

7. Curriculum and Assessment Board Work Programme for 2020/21

7.1 The chair introduced the item and paper CAB-11(02). AA provided an overview on the paper to attendees and noted that some aspects of the work programme may now be out of date following the announcement that a blended learning approach is no longer the Scottish Government’s working assumption. AA invited comments on the proposed work programme and the following were offered:

  • School and college partnerships should be added to relevant agenda items. There is a need to ensure that they are recognised as part of the senior phase of the curriculum.
  • Curriculum design should be included, particularly given the OECD review and could also include consideration of assessment design.
  • In light of discussions around national qualifications in 2020/21 the CAB should take responsibility for oversight of the delivery of qualifications and awards under Curriculum for Excellence.
  • The CAB should also focus on monitoring the development of curriculum offerings in the education recovery phase.
  • The CAB should consider the recommendations of the Additional Support for Learning Review.
  • It was suggested that there should be consideration of anti-racism education. In response it was noted that the Deputy First Minister has committed to looking again at curriculum resources in light of calls to more fully reflect racial inequality in CfE.
  • The Board should look more closely at assessment challenges raised by NASUWT members.

8. Any Other Business (AOB)

8.1 The chair invited attendees to raise any other business. As no other business was raised the chair thanked attendees for their contributions and reminded them that the next meeting is due to take place on 9 September 2020.

Meeting concludes

List of actions

  1. The Board’s secretariat to ensure that the minute of CAB meeting from 20 February 2020 shows Larry Flanagan and Brian Green in attendance.
  2. The Board’s secretariat to circulate the NPFS parent guidance on the ‘recovery curriculum’ to all Curriculum and Assessment Board members.
  3. The Scottish Government and Education Scotland to ensure that revised guidance on curriculum design in the recovery phase is issued should a formal decision be made that schools will return without a blended model on 11 August.
  4. The Scottish Government to work with relevant partners to further consider the preferred approach to assessment of national qualifications in 2020/21 in line with Curriculum and Assessment Board feedback.

CAB meeting - June 2020: agenda

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