Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Watchdog gives curriculum warning

The curriculum encourages children to find out information for themselves

An education watchdog has warned that radical changes to the school curriculum could be superficial.

HM Inspectorate of Education said the new Curriculum for Excellence could be derailed as not every teacher has access to high quality training.

The inspectors said linking that training and children's learning had shown "promising but patchy" progress.

The new curriculum is intended to provide a framework for pupils to gain the knowledge and skills for learning.

Under the Curriculum for Excellence, children will be encouraged to find out more information themselves and learn how to evaluate it and use it appropriately.

For example, instead of teachers telling children about climates across Europe, they could instruct pupils to go on to the internet to find a reliable source with the required information on temperature and rainfall.

The success of the reform will depend upon teachers developing new knowledge, understanding and practice
Graham Donaldson

However, in their Learning Together report into the implementation of the curriculum, senior chief inspector Graham Donaldson said there had been "patchy progress" on implementing the Teachers' Agreement, which was intended to enhance individual teachers' professional skills, knowledge and attributes.

Mr Donaldson said: "The benefits of the Teachers' Agreement have yet to be fully realised. Successful implementation of Curriculum for Excellence relies on this".

Curriculum for Excellence sets a "rightly ambitious agenda" for reform in Scottish education, he added.

But Mr Donaldson warned: "While Scottish teachers have highly developed professional skills, the success of the reform will depend upon teachers developing new knowledge, understanding and practice.

"Our work in compiling this report has shown that high quality professional development, collegiality and the work of chartered teachers are all helping many schools implement Curriculum for Excellence, and that this is already leading to more motivating experiences for learners.

"While we have found a great deal of encouraging practice, this is not in evidence consistently across all schools and education authorities, and not all parts of the agenda are yet being systematically addressed."

'Valuable recommendations'

Most importantly, there is "not yet a clear enough link" between the activities introduced by the curriculum and improvements in children and young people's learning, Mr Donaldson said.

Cabinet Secretary for Education Fiona Hyslop said: "There is no doubt that Continuing Professional Development is of vital importance to teachers, schools and the education system as a whole. It allows teachers to stay fresh, benefit from new thinking, learn from their colleagues and share experiences and ideas.

"As we continue to implement Curriculum for Excellence the importance of CPD can only increase. That's why I believe it is essential that all those involved in education redouble their efforts and make sure CPD delivers maximum benefits that are focused on the curriculum. We need school leaders and education authorities to lead and support a change in culture to make sure this happens.

"This report has a number of valuable recommendations on how CPD can be improved and I strongly encourage teachers, schools and local authorities to rise to these challenges."

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