Page last updated at 23:43 GMT, Thursday, 13 May 2010 00:43 UK

Inspections postponed for Curriculum for Excellence

Generic pupils sitting exam
The new curriculum is due to be implemented in all schools by August

Inspections of secondary schools will be postponed while a controversial new curriculum is being introduced.

HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIe) has announced the move as part of plans to provide extra support to schools during the implementation process.

The announcement was welcomed by a teaching union, which said it was a big step in the right direction.

The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) will be brought into secondary schools across Scotland in August.

HMIe said all secondary school inspections would be postponed between August and December.

A reduced programme of inspections will also be carried out in primary schools.

HMIe said this would allow it to provide "substantial" additional support to schools and local authorities while CfE is introduced.

I am confident that schools will benefit from the expertise and knowledge that the inspectors provide
Michael Russell
Education Secretary

This will include district inspectors working with directors of education to identify where schools may require help.

Random sampling will also be carried out by HMIe to assess how the implementation of the curriculum is progressing.

HM Senior Chief Inspector Bill Maxwell said they had been supporting CfE since its inception.

But he added: "This gives us an opportunity to work in a targeted way with schools and education authorities at this important stage of the process."

The handling of the CfE implementation in secondary schools has been criticised by unions, which have claimed it is not yet fit to be fully rolled-out.

But the HMIe announcement was welcomed by Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the EIS teaching union.

He said: "Refocusing the resources of school inspection teams in the short term to allow secondary schools to concentrate their attention on the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence is a common-sense approach which is a significant step in the right direction.

"In these times of tight budgets, it is right to concentrate the limited resources available to support the implementation of CfE. Scottish education needs CfE to succeed, so we must work together to ensure that this will happen."

Eileen Prior, of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said many parents would be pleased to see "tangible" support being provided to schools which need help in implementing CfE.

'Specific concerns'

She added: "For those parents who are anticipating an inspection in the early part of next term however, particularly where parents have specific concerns, this will be disappointing news.

"However, we are assured that HMIe will continue to be ready to act quickly where there are immediate and strong concerns."

Education Secretary Michael Russell said the HMIe would be refocusing its work to deliver "real and tangible" help to schools that need it.

"I am confident that schools will benefit from the expertise and knowledge that the inspectors provide," he said.

"As we move towards August I am also continuing to listen and work with colleagues across the management board to ensure teachers and schools get what they need to deliver the new curriculum."

But Labour education spokesman Des McNulty accused the Scottish government of "papering over the cracks" of its "mismanaged" CfE policy.

He said: "This is a panic measure - teacher's survey responses show they have lost confidence in the ability of the Scottish government or the management board to implement Curriculum for Excellence successfully.

"In desperation, Mike Russell has taken the unprecedented step of redeploying the inspectorate to force through the reform. But this is too little too late - it simply underlines the scale of the SNP government in Edinburgh's mismanagement of the implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence."

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