Curriculum for Excellence 2020-2021 - OECD review: initial evidence pack

Initial evidence base for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) independent review of Curriculum for Excellence, developed by the Scottish Government, to provide the OECD with contextual information and evidence on the Scottish education system, in advance of their research and engagement work.

Annex A: Timeline For The Development Of Curriculum For Excellence

Key Milestones/ Publications


National Debate on Education  A consultation to determine what was working well and what needed to change in school education. Teachers and educationalists recognised that there was a need to offer more engaging and relevant experiences to ensure that Scotland's children and young people were equipped for life and work in a globalised society.


Curriculum Review Group established  The Curriculum Review Group was established by Scottish Executive Ministers to identify the key principles to be applied in the curriculum redesign for ages 3-18.  It looked at evidence of practice, research, international comparisons and global, local, economic and social changes.


A Curriculum for Excellence published - The first A Curriculum for Excellence document was published in November 2004 as a result of the work of the Curriculum Review Group, together with the Ministerial response. This provided explicit aims for education in Scotland and principles for curriculum redesign.


Research and review process  Research was commissioned and practitioners drawn from different sectors of education and from around the country were seconded to Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) to review existing guidelines and research findings, hold focus groups with practitioners and begin the process of developing simpler, prioritised curriculum guidelines.


Progress and Proposals published and Building the Curriculum series begun The Progress and Proposals document set out key features of the new curriculum. The Building the Curriculum publications provided guidance on how different aspects of the curriculum contribute to the aims of Curriculum for Excellence.

The Scottish School's (Parental Involvement) Act was enshrined in law placing duties on education authorities and schools to ensure parents are involved in the life and work of their children's learning and school communities. The Act also placed a requirements on education authorities and schools to ensure parents are included in school improvement planning and receive high quality information regarding their children's educational progress. 


Draft experiences and outcomes published  The draft experiences and outcomes (the new curriculum materials) were published in stages. Teachers and all those with an interest in children and young people's learning were encouraged to reflect on the draft experiences and outcomes and feed their comments back through an extensive engagement process. Findings were also fed back from trialling activities and from focus groups.

Analysis of feedback and responses on experiences and outcomes All feedback was analysed by the University of Glasgow and actions were identified to respond to the issues raised. There was then a process of refinement, further development, consultation and quality assurance.


Building the Curriculum 3: A framework for learning and teaching published This was a key document is setting the new curriculum framework, setting out key principles and entitlements for all young people.


Publication of the new curriculum guidelines  Following further quality assurance processes, the new curriculum guidelines were published for implementation. The new qualifications framework was announced in June 2009.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland were formed with support from the Scottish Government. For the first time the forum provided Scottish education with a national independent body which would represent the collective voice of parents across all 32 local authorities. The forum would also contribute to many of the developments and reviews of the curriculum from a parental perspective.


Planning and implementation  All schools began to deliver Curriculum for Excellence in August 2010.


Developing new qualifications  Draft documents for the new qualifications are published for feedback with final unit and course specifications published for many qualifications during 2012.


Final Year of Standard grade  Specimen papers published for National 5. Final certification of qualifications at Standard Grade.


Developing the Young Workforce: Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy This was a key document setting out clear expectations around engaging employers in education and better aligning the school curriculum with the needs of the economy. Focus on skills development and ensuring a broad curriculum, beyond academic qualifications.

First Certification of New Nationals  First certification of new/revised qualifications at National 1 to National 5 (SCQF levels 1 to 5) (August)


The Scottish Attainment Challenge Backed by the £750 million Attainment Scotland Fund, this supports schools and Local Authorities to drive forward improvements in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing to help close the attainment gap.

Publication of Career Education Standard 3-18 (CES), the Work Placements Standard and the Guidance for School/Employer Partnerships These outlined the entitlements for learners and the expectations placed on teachers and practitioners, Skills Development Scotland, employers and parents to support all children and young people in their development of skills and understanding of the world of work.

First Certification of New Higher  Final certification of qualifications at Access 1 to 3 (SCQF levels 1-3), Intermediate 1 and 2 ((SCQF levels 4 and 5) and existing Higher (SCQF level 6) and Advanced Higher (SCQF level 7). (August) First certification of new Higher qualifications (SCQF level 6) (August)


Delivering Excellence & Equity in Scottish Education: A Delivery Plan for Scotland published, which set out clear plans for raising attainment and closing the attainment gap.

First Certification of Advanced Higher  First certification of new Advanced Higher qualifications (SCQF level 7) (August).

Established International Council of Education Advisors to advise Ministers on how best to achieve excellence and equity in the Scottish education system.

National Improvement Framework developed to set the vision and priorities for Scottish education and the national improvement activity that needs to be undertaken to help deliver those key priorities.

New inspection models, aligned with the National Improvement Framework, introduced to give more flexibility to respond to different circumstances and contexts. 


Scottish Education Council established - to provide oversight of improvement in education in Scotland.

Curriculum & Assessment Board established to improve curriculum and assessment policy in education and provide advice and guidance to Scottish Ministers. This replaced the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board and its supporting structures


15-24 Learner Journey Review report published which looked at the guidance, advice and support and learning choices available to young people in the post-15 education and skills system, as well as parity of esteem between vocational and academic learning.

The Scottish Learner Panel was developed to provide a forum for young people to directly influence education policy in Scotland.


A Headteachers Charter was published alongside guidance for school leaders, ensuring headteachers have clear decision making powers in respect of staffing, budgets, improvement and curriculum as envisaged in the draft Education Bill. 

Refreshed Curriculum Narrative Published to re-visit the initial Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) narrative and set it within the current context. It supports the process of engaging with the core principles of CfE and the development of practices that are fit for purpose.



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