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What Scotland needs to do to make its school system the 'best in the world'

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Dec 16, 2015.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

  2. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Another audit of what we're doing to implement CfE is exactly what we need.
    Shoot me now. It'll be kinder.
    Alice K, Nerudapaz and aspensquiver like this.
  3. gnulinux

    gnulinux Occasional commenter

    "The report acknowledges that its recommendations will require “deep-seated cultural beliefs” to change before they can be delivered and this will pose “a considerable challenge”. Curriculum for Excellence was born as a result of the national conversation on education in 2002, implementation got underway in 2010, and the first cohort of secondary pupils to experience the changes will leave school in June."

    In plain English: Its a failure. Following a brief consultation? in 2002, the Educational establishment hi-jacked the opportunity to do what they wanted - save money!!!

    "Responding to the report, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We broadly accept the report’s 12 recommendations as complementary to the work we are already doing through the National Improvement Framework and the Scottish Attainment Challenge. We will now lead the work with our partners in Scottish education to take forward these recommendations for the benefit of all of Scotland’s children.”"

    In plain English: Don't tell us what to do we're on it. And the SG commissioned the report in the first place.

    "Montserrat Gomendio, deputy director of education and skills at the OECD, said: “We applaud Scotland for having the foresight and patience to put such an ambitious reform as Curriculum for Excellence in place; we hope that our OECD review will help ensure that it will live up to its full potential and realise excellence and equity right across Scotland.” "

    In plain English: Numpties!!!
  4. Freddie92

    Freddie92 Occasional commenter

    Stop lowering pass rates for a start (raise the bar, don't lower it) and also have more vocational courses for the less academic.

    Workload for staff is a massive issue. There seems little time to spend quality time on a topic. We rush from topic to topic with assessment mania in tow.
    Nerudapaz and aspensquiver like this.
  5. Potatoes005

    Potatoes005 Occasional commenter

    All for the more vocational way of life in schools. Like I've said in the past, the best the education system could do for some of our "young learners" or "rascals" is buy an auld transit and teach them how to fix it up. At least they'll leave with something, and more importantly some "skill" rather than the old National in Drama which I hear is becoming the calling card of academic failure, and also the most important subject in a school at the same time.
    aspensquiver likes this.
  6. gnulinux

    gnulinux Occasional commenter

    The Scottish Education system has become massively over-complex - and therefor self-defeating.

    What is needed?

    A - simplify the system - teachers teach and assess only - no curriculum development
    B - standardise it - every school uses same high quality centrally produced materials
    C - streamline the system in light of experience - teacher supply feedback from practice only - curriculum development done centrally by acknowledged experts (not cronies on the make)

    Responding to the report, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We broadly accept the report’s 12 recommendations as complementary to the work we are already doing through the National Improvement Framework and the Scottish Attainment Challenge. We will now lead the work with our partners in Scottish education to take forward these recommendations for the benefit of all of Scotland’s children.”

    Anybody seen any evidence of that since??? Thought not!!!
    Alice K, AyeRight and Nerudapaz like this.
  7. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    The National curriculum in England tried this. The NC came with a standardised set of materials to teach every subject. The materials were supposed to show how all of the points in the curriculum could be covered in a scheme of work. Some schools developed their own materials to cover the curricula. Problems set in when OFSTED started to criticise schools for not covering the curricula "properly". The knee jerk reaction of every school manager was to throw out all home-grown teaching materials and stick to the materials which came with the NC because they could never be criticised for using the standard materials.
    I am all for standardisation. So long as the standardised materials come with standardised forms of assessment I would be happy. The NC tried this too and came up with level descriptors which made no sense. No attempt was ever made to fix these descriptors.
  8. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    The elephant in the room that politicians, and educational bureaucrats, appear reluctant to acknowledge is that the decline in literacy and numeracy in Scottish schools coincides, almost exactly, with the introduction of a Curriculum for Excellence.

    For those who remember the 'national conversation on education' in 2002, it was conducted within a very tight timescale and the outcomes bear little resemblance to the issues raised by those working directly with children and young people.

    For example, when first put forward, a Curriculum for Excellence was supposed to give teachers and schools more autonomy, and the power to shape the curriculum to the needs of pupils, but that concept was very soon hijacked by the School Inspectorate, and others, who saw it as an opportunity to strengthen the top-down, micromanagement of schools and their own bureaucratic power.

    Whatever benefits there are to constructivist theories of learning - and remember, these were used widely in primary schools during the 1970s - they are not the only learning and teaching methodologies that help pupils make educational progress. Some pupils, and especially those of average and below average academic ability, need highly structured learning tasks, with lots of repetition and practice, if they are to make progress. That was one lesson learned back in the 1970s when the so-called 'integrated day' - or 'disintegrated day' as some called it - was phased out in favour of a more structured primary curriculum, which is ironic given the current concern about pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds falling behind children and young people living in more prosperous areas.

    However, to be fair, I suspect most people could think of situations where you learn more effectively by actively doing something but, unfortunately, trying to reproduce meaningful 'active learning' within the confines of an often overcrowded classroom, with limited and diminishing resources, is not always realistic. Yet members of the School Inspectorate continue to push the idea that pupils will only learn effectively if they are out of their seats, playing educational games, for a large part of the school day. Is it any wonder, then, that standards in literacy and numeracy are falling?

    Given that the School Inspectorate / HMIE / Education Scotland have a specific remit to maintain, and improve, standards within Scottish schools, I can't think why they have not been held to account for the decline in literacy and numeracy? Well, actually, I can - they are a government watchdog, and there is no way that they are going to expose curricular, policy failings of successive governments and their educational advisers. That would mean losing face and accepting that they have collectively damaged the educational prospects of a whole generation of pupils. Indeed, it looks set to continue because they are unwilling to address the root cause of the decline.

    Of course, there is always the danger that one looks back on education through rose-tinted spectacles, so I recently took the opportunity to ask some young, newly qualified teachers how they were finding a Curriculum for Excellence. I expected them to be quite enthusiastic having secured a full time post in teaching but every one of them was of the same opinion: 'It's rubbish' and, even more sadly, quite a few of them were considering leaving the profession after only a few years because 'they were exhausted and had no work life balance'.

    Now, whilst the views of that sample of young teachers may, or may not, be representative of newly qualified teachers as a whole, it should be of serious concern to those responsible for maintaining a well-trained, and motivated, teaching profession in Scotland.
  9. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    Brilliant post, fly. I'd vote for you.
    brothermunro likes this.
  10. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Standardised resources are fine, but what sort of a curriculum would you end up creating? Something like the French one, where a class of 5 year olds in Marseille are learning exactly the same thing, being taught exactly the same way, and using exactly the same texts as a class in Calais? Fine for consistency, if that's your thing, but no way of changing the resources to suit your class or amending them to fit your style.

    To me, some centrally produced resources would be fine. But to eliminate curriculum development entirely would take a lot of enjoyment out of teaching for me. Eliminating marking, however....;)
    Alice K likes this.
  11. gnulinux

    gnulinux Occasional commenter

    In my experience, most teachers I have come across are pretty hopeless at curriculum development. CfE is a prime example of the results of that. And consistency is good - and miles better than the dogs breakfast model of a curriculum that is CfE. And how else are you going to even begin to close the so-called attainment gap if you don't give all pupils the same chance to start with???
  12. brothermunro

    brothermunro Occasional commenter

    1. The curriculum needs to be designed with school leavers as the primary driver. What do we want young people leaving school to be able to do and what do we want them to know? Obviously this is different for those going off to university and those going into work straight out of school (and the type of work).
    2. Because of 1. employers and universities need to be involved in setting what is expected of a pupil leaving school. For instance, if a kid has Higher English an employer should be reasonable confident that they are good with words.
    3. Once you know what you want to produce you can design assessments to give employers/unis confidence that a young person has the skills and knowledge they want. This means control over those assessments and it means the assessment specs and sample assessments need to be finalised early. (To me this means major changes in the way the SQA is governed).
    4. Now you know what you are aiming for you can engage with teachers and figure out how to build kids up to the required level all the way from P1. Make sure teachers are able to improvise and have breathing room, but that they also don't have to invent anything. Recognise that teachers must be free to teach how they want, with no imposition of teaching techniques.
    5. Now that you have a plan for all years you can publish the plan for consultation.
    6. Listen to the feedback of teachers, change things if needed. Repeat 5&6 until teachers are happy (or at least, not unhappy).
    7. Create, before the plan goes live, all the materials, assessments and support structures teachers will need to get going for all levels.
    8. Before going live check with teachers that they are confident to get going.
    9. Go live with the plan, starting with P1's and phasing in as they move up through the school system.
    10. Monitor and make improvements/changes as needed.
    Doing things like this would take at least a decade, but it would make sure it was done right. At least in my humble opinion.

    In the mean time here are some things that could be done immediately:
    • Halt all inspections
    • Increase teacher pay
    • Increase per captia school budgets
    • Decrease teacher contact time
    • Get the SQA to stop being so awful
    markbannan and bigjimmy2 like this.
  13. Effinbankers

    Effinbankers Lead commenter

    I'd add no.11 to the brother's list

    Focus on reading, writing and counting between P1 and P3. Anyone who doens't meet basic standards gets kept back until they can.
    Alice K, suem75, brothermunro and 2 others like this.
  14. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    Reduce the BGE to S1 and S2. Those sets of 30 pupils running around together for 3 whole years is murder.
  15. MilkyBar Kid

    MilkyBar Kid Occasional commenter

    Agreed. Also from S3 introduce credible, recognised, meaningful vocational pathways and raise the profile of such. It is obvious by the end of S2 that some (many?) pupils are clearly not cut out for structured academic study in school, yet what choice are they offered? Currently many pupils are wasting their time (and ours!) being forced to sit N5 Maths & English 3 times, in S4, S5 & S6 because they are told that they can't do anything without them. As brothermunro already rightly stated we need to start with the end game in focus, i.e. what will our pupils actually DO when they leave school, and not simply what will they HAVE in terms of qualifications. To that end we need far closer integration between our Secondary Schools, Further Education Colleges and Local Employers.
  16. AyeRight

    AyeRight Occasional commenter

    Dare I say it.....articulate and well resourced courses that can be easily followed? The mess that goes from Level 3 to N4 is a national disgrace.
  17. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    It's too late. We're doomed and there's nothing we can do about it. Collect your ever-diminishing wage packet, try to save a bit for your dribbling old age and try to live a bit between then and now.
    catmother likes this.
  18. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    I'm afraid you're right. It's very sad but you've summed up the situation as it is now.
    bigjimmy2 likes this.
  19. gnulinux

    gnulinux Occasional commenter

    Get rid of Education Scotland. If done, you would see an immediate improvement in Scotland's Education system - and save loads of money into the bargain.
    AyeRight likes this.
  20. AyeRight

    AyeRight Occasional commenter

    I think EdSco costs just under £40000000 to run most years. Just a quick read though - would love more accurate figure.

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