Excellence is a talent or quality which is unusually good and so surpasses ordinary standards. It is also used as a standard of performance.
Here in Scotland we have an amazing thing. It is called the “Curriculum for Excellence” and it truly fits that description above. Oh, no, wait… I’m talking bollocks. It is a steaming pile, it stinks and it has so few details it beggars belief.
We have known CfE (as it is more commonly known, since saying it in full each time you need to takes far too long) was coming for some time, we just didn’t know what form it would take. Now that the information has arrived through the post I can say with some confidence that we still haven’t a bloody clue and it will impact on our Eldest in 2 years.
I’m no stranger to change in education. GCSEs hit the decks the year before I started studying, so I was the 2nd year to do them instead of O-levels. My eldest will be in the first year to do whatever the hell the new system brings.
So… Under CfE there are, apparently, 2 main phases of education – S1-3, the “Broad General Education” and S4-6, the “Senior Phase”. Where anyone in the normal end of the planet would be studying GCSEs and then A-levels, Scotland just has to be different… In the Senior Phase, pupils will have the “opportunities to achieve a range of qualifications from National 1 to National 5, Highers, Advanced Highers and the Scottish Baccalaureate.” So that’s nice and clear for both students, universities and employers, isn’t it? “Employer: Do you have GCSE English? Student: No, but I have National 3 in Languages. Employer: WTF?” Likewise when considering a career in, for example, Medicine at an eminent English university, how do you convince the university in question that what you’ve got is a real qualification and not something you’ve made up on the spot?
We have no details about how many subjects pupils will study, what range of subjects can be chosen and to what level. None. I know, from a conversation with our head teacher when we raised the subject of studying all 3 sciences, that across Scotland local authorities are deciding whether pupils should study 6, 7 or 8 subjects in the “Senior Phase”. That’s a lot less than I took at GCSE and if they aim for the lowest, only 2 more than I took at A-level!
We’re now having to search for more details when none appear to be there. We’re also seriously considering boarding our eldest somewhere where the education system actually makes some sense and hasn’t been arsed around with by committee so badly. And that brings into question our entire life here in Shetland.
Scotland appears to be aiming to make Scottish pupils unemployable outside of Scotland – imagine the sheer effort of trying to decipher what the qualifications a candidate has. By changing the systems so much it is effectively trapping this generation of learners in Scotland. The SNP really don’t like their own people, do they?
I’d love to hear from anyone with experience of how the CfE is being implemented in practice elsewhere in Scotland. Positive or negative, I’m easy either way. Hell, I’d love it if someone could lay all these fears to rest and prove to me that my misgivings about this are completely unfounded. Leave it all in the comments, if you’d be so kind.