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.

Annex A: Recommendations from OECD report and summary of conclusions from Professor Stobart's working paper

Recommendations from the OECD report - Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence: Into the Future

1. Balance Curriculum for Excellence so students can fully benefit from a coherent learning experience from 3 to 18 years

1.1 Re-assess CfE's aspirational vision against emerging trends in education to take account of evolutions in education and society: Scotland should consider updates to some of its vision's core elements and their implications for practice, in particular, the role of knowledge in CfE; and define indicators aligned to the vision to help understand students' progress across all four capacities set out in CfE.

1.2 Find a better balance between breadth and depth of learning throughout CfE to deliver Scotland's commitment to providing all learners with a rich learning experience throughout school education: Scotland could consider how the design of CfE can better help learners consolidate a common base of knowledge, skills and attitudes by the end of BGE, and nurture and hone this base for them to progress seamlessly through Senior Phase and the choices its offers.

1.3 Adapt the Senior Phase to match the vision of CfE: Scotland could consider adapting the pedagogical and assessment practices and the structure of learning pathways in the Senior Phase to enhance learners' experience of upper-secondary education and help them develop CfE's four capacities continuously.

1.4 Continue building curricular capacity at various levels of the system using research by developing the environment of curriculum design support around schools, including in supporting exchange and collaboration between practitioners for curriculum design and experimentation within and across schools; and collaboration between schools and universities.

2. Combine effective collaboration with clear roles and responsibilities

2.1 Ensure stable, purposeful and impactful stakeholder involvement with CfE: System leaders at national and local levels could continue encouraging the involvement of stakeholders (and in particular, students) with CfE by better structuring each engagement initiative they offer, clarifying its purpose, designing it accordingly, and letting stakeholder input inform decision making.

2.2 Revise the division of responsibilities for CfE: System leaders and stakeholders could revise the current allocation of responsibility for CfE, including responsibilities for its strategic direction, its reviews and updates, and the response to schools' needs of support with curriculum issues. The revised allocation should be stable over time to fulfil Scotland's commitment to shared ownership of CfE.

2.3 Structure a coherent communication strategy to support developments of CfE: System leaders, with the Learning Directorate and Education Scotland at the forefront, could develop a communication strategy in support of CfE's next developments and collaborate with practitioners, scholars and other CfE stakeholders as they do so.

3. Consolidate institutional policy processes for effective change

3.1 Provide dedicated time to lead, plan and support CfE at the school level: In support of the next phase of development of CfE, Scotland could consider the provision of additional dedicated and ring-fenced time for all teachers, for curriculum planning, for monitoring of student achievement and in support of moderation of assessment outcomes.

3.2 Simplify policies and institutions for clarity and coherence: To align the institutional structures with clear ownership of CfE, Scotland could explore assigning leadership and development responsibilities for curriculum (and perhaps assessment) to a specialist stand-alone agency; and consider refreshing the remit of an inspectorate of education regarding CfE.

3.3 Align curriculum, qualifications and system evaluation to deliver on the commitment of Building the Curriculum 5: Scotland could first identify modes of student assessment that could be used in school and external settings at Senior Phase levels, in alignment with the four capacities and CfE philosophy; and second, re-develop a sample-based evaluation system to collect robust and reliable data necessary to support curriculum reviews and decision making.

3.4 Develop a systematic approach to curriculum review: Scotland could consider establishing a systematic curriculum review cycle with a planned timeframe and specific review agenda, led by the specialist stand-alone agency.

4. Lead the next steps for Curriculum for Excellence with a long-term view

4.1 Adopt a structured and long-term approach to implementation: Building on the system's existing strengths, Scotland should consider how to take on board the recommendations in this report as a coherent package rather than individual policy actions for the next steps.

Summary of conclusions from Professor Stobart's paper

Professor Stobart's paper outlines six options that Scotland may wish to consider as part of a wider dialogue on the future of qualifications and assessment. These include:

  • Exploring the replacement of examinations at age 16 by a school graduation certificate;
  • Developing a more resilient upper secondary assessment system;
  • Seeking better alignment of assessment with curriculum and pedagogy through broadening the forms of assessment;
  • Reconfiguring and increasing the role of school based assessment and adapting the central moderation system;
  • Systematically investigating students' perceptions and views of assessment arrangements and
  • Further developing the role of vocational qualifications in broadening the curriculum.



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