I welcome the publication on 2nd April of the outcomes and experiences for all subject areas (though would question the underlying assumption of the term ‘subject’ – a debate for another time) and am particularly interested in the Literacy and English document (summarised above).  I think the CfE has enormous potential to transform Scottish education and hope that all concerned with its implementation will be open minded enough to work with it.

I echo head teachers’ concerns about the apparent mis-match between the context, skills and content of the new qualifications and the CfE outcomes and experiences and was relieved to read that the SQA is to be be led by the CfE management board. For too long, the demands of an external exam system have determined the learning experiences of our young people.

In a TESS article Head teachers’ concerns were summed up by David Chalmers, head of Biggar High, South Lanarkshire: “We are afraid, and our teachers are afraid, that we will build a new system and provide better experiences for youngsters in S1-3 – and then we will suddenly be faced with the same old exam system and we and our teachers will be found wanting.”

David Cameron, president of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, warned that CfE would “fall apart like a house of cards” if the assessment system did not reward the style of teaching demanded by it.

Larry Flanagan, education convener of the Educational Institute of Scotland, concurred: “If there is one single issue that brings down the whole system, it will be the assessment arrangements.”

 I like the UNESCO aims for education in the 21st century with which Brian Boyd juxtaposes the principles of CfE:



Learning to know

Successful Learners

       Learning to do

Effective Contributors

Learning to live together

Responsible Citizens

Learning to be

Confident Individuals

 He noted that all the UNESCO aims contain the word ‘Learning’. I think it was Guy Claxton who noted that in dissection of the language used in many classes the word ‘learning’ was seldom used: much more common was the word ‘work’.

Brian felt that these aims should be in reverse order with ‘Learning to Be’ the most important. After all, many of those children presently in P1 will be in jobs that have not yet been invented. The need to know is much less important than the need to recognise that you don’t know and the need to ‘know what to do when you don’t know what to do’.

If CfE helps us move towards education and learning rather than schooling in its narrow sense I have hope for the future.