Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Sunday, 28 March 2010 16:27 UK

'No delay' for school curriculum

Mr Russell told BBC Scotland's Glenn Campbell he would address the concerns

The education secretary has rejected calls by secondary teachers to delay the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence.

Some unions have expressed concerns that their members will not be ready to introduce the new system in August.

But Mike Russell said he will create specialist groups in subject areas to provide the right support.

The new curriculum has been billed as the biggest shake up in Scottish education for a generation.

Mr Russell told the BBC's Politics Show Scotland that two teaching unions had asked him to delay implementation of the curriculum.

He said he did not believe this was reasonable, but insisted he was listening to their concerns and wanted to address them.

I am planning to set up an excellence group that is going to bring together the best people and the brightest minds
Mike Russell
Education secretary

Mr Russell said: "I believe we are ready for it. During the coming week I am going to be talking about how we can make ourselves even more ready for it.

"If there are any places that feel lack of confidence we can support them, but this is a timetable that was established way back in the previous administration.

"It is a timetable we have already delayed once because our predecessors did not exactly exert themselves to get this moving forward."

Mr Russell acknowledged there has been criticism that the curriculum does not have real rigour in terms of the subjects that are taught in school.

"There has been some criticism of Curriculum for Excellence that it doesn't really say what is excellent," he added.

"So I am planning to set up an excellence group that is going to bring together the best people and the brightest minds in, say, physics with the brightest teachers in physics so that we can in get the best advice and help and support for physics teachers who are going to be teaching Curriculum for Excellence."

It is hoped the new system of "joined-up" lessons will encourage children to find out more information for themselves rather than through traditional teaching methods.

However, primary schools are generally thought to be better prepared for its introduction at the start of the new school year than are secondary schools.

'Greater clarity'

Secondary teacher leaders have claimed the new curriculum is not fully developed and have called on it to be delayed for a year.

But these calls have been resisted by unions representing primary school teachers, as well as by council directors of education, who have said most schools are ready to introduce the curriculum on time.

Labour's schools spokesman Ken Macintosh called on the Scottish government to spell out exactly what it will do to get schools ready for the start of the new curriculum.

He added: "Children starting in secondary schools this autumn need greater clarity as to what the new curriculum will mean to them in practice, but parental concerns are being ignored.

"These are not new questions. We have been putting them to the SNP administration for the last three years, and it is time we saw some decision making and leadership."

"If SNP ministers continue to mishandle the Curriculum for Excellence we face the worst possible outcome for Scottish children."

Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott said: "Curriculum for Excellence is a fundamental change to how children learn and the SNP must make sure that the resources are in place for this.

"Further details are needed from the education secretary on what exams teachers will be teaching towards for secondary pupils.

"The education secretary must make sure that there is proper support in place for teachers and pupils for its roll out in August."

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