Cuts have been bad for Scottish education, but Curriculum for Excellence is at the root of the problem

I’m glad to see that there is at last a serious discussion taking place about the lack in educational attainment in many Scottish schools. Part of the problem has come lack of finance, which from my own knowledge has led to shortages of teachers in key subjects and other cuts, as well as demoralisation amongst many teachers. And the SNP Scottish Government must take the responsibility for that – it has, after all, been in government for 10 years, and it has made the budget and taxation choices which has resulted in education not getting the finance it ought.

But if we are going to tackle the lack of attainment, we must recognise that lack of cash is not the only problem, and probably not the fundamental problem. I have said for some time that the Curriculum for Excellence has not just been badly implemented, but also that it is flawed in its essence. I agree with the analysis by Professor Lindsay Paterson, Professor of Education Policy at Edinburgh University, which can be seen in this short clip (which I strongly recommend you read – it’s less than 2 minutes long):

Note two of his comments: “the evidence is that the Curriculum for Excellence is at the core of problem with educational attainment” ; “the whole point of the Curriculum for Excellence is misconceived”. These are conclusions he says he has reached from the evidence.

Note also that his damning comment that “the things we have been trying to teach Scottish children for at least the last 15 years have been causing them to learn less than their counterparts in other countries”.

15 years, of course, includes both SNP and Labour/LibDem governments, and perhaps that is why although leading figures in all these parties are prepared to say there have been problems in ‘implementation’ of the Curriculum for Excellence, or have, rightly, pointed out how lack of finance has contributed to those problems, there appears to be some reluctance to accept that there are more fundamental problems with the Curriculum for Excellence. No doubt that is why the Conservatives, having been out of Scottish government, have been more ready to accept that the policy is misconceived in essence.

In my view, all the Scottish political parties should now accept that the Curriculum for Excellence does have fundamental flaws, and an urgent review is needed, with action to follow. Every year that is delayed, our schools education system is likely to fall behind our counterparts. That need for review and action is what should be the priority for the Scottish Government, not possible further reorganisations of the structure of education.

If the Scottish Government and Parliament do not do that, they will fail current and future generations of Scottish school students; and a country which falls behind in educational attainment is likely to fall behind in economic performance as well.






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