Curriculum for Excellence review: implementation framework

A framework for how we will address the recommendations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report, ‘Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence: Into the Future’. This will include using the analysis and advice set out in Professor Stobart’s working paper on assessment in secondary education.


As a society, our ambition is for a Scotland where children and young people receive the best possible educational experience, and are able to realise their aspirations. As set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), every child has a right to education (article 28) and that education must develop every child's personality, talents and abilities to the full as well as encouraging the child's respect for human rights, for their parents, their own and other cultures, and the environment (article 29). These fundamental rights underpin the inclusive approach to education and the curriculum in Scotland, and are the guiding principles under which we as a nation consider education policy.

The Scottish Government commissioned the OECD to provide a rigorous 'health check' of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and published the remit for the review in February 2020. The OECD, reporting in June 2021, found wide support for CfE and stated that Scotland's curriculum "continues to be a bold and widely supported initiative, and its design offers the flexibility needed to improve student learning further." Professor Stobart describes CfE as a "pioneering example of 21st-century curriculum reform" and highlighted that Scotland's curriculum continues to be viewed internationally as "an inspiring example equated with good curriculum practice". The OECD also identified areas for review and improvement.

In setting out next steps with the OECD's recommendations it is critical to recognise that the recommendations were made to "support Scotland as it further enhances CfE to achieve its potential for learners". The OECD also commented that "its [CfE's] design offers the flexibility needed for a few adjustments to further improve the learners' journey, if schools and teachers receive adequate support from the system". This is not about wholesale change, but is about a process of continuous improvement, to learn from the approach to implementation over the last 10 years, and make adjustments where necessary.

Against that background, this framework is intended to set out the key next steps and initial actions in how the OECD's recommendations and Professor Stobart's working paper will be taken forward. Scottish Government will co-ordinate this work, but recognises the different responsibilities and accountabilities in the education system, including the statutory responsibility of local authorities for the provision of education, and the need to work together to build consensus, drawing together leaders and learners from all parts of the system to develop a mandate for change which has wide support and which can be acted on by those who have agency in particular areas.



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