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What's your opinon on Cfe so far

Discussion in 'Scotland - curriculum' started by triquetra, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. We have now been teaching using cfe for 7 months now. Do you feel pupils are performing better under this system? Having recently marked a formative poster and summative test I feel pupils are doing worse in terms of their knowledge in my subject. This year's results from either; formative pieces of work or summative assement are really poor. The pupils are experiencing the outcomes but not learning. I feel rushed during a period to squeeze in as many card sorts, pratical work, co-op learning etc that I feel I am not teaching anymore. I know we are meant to aid learning but surely sometimes there must be an arguement for just me talking and them listening and making notes. I know this type of teaching is now seen as "bad" but if pupils got better results in the old system then surely there must be an arguement against our new methods??? What's your opinon????
  2. gl650dude

    gl650dude New commenter

    <font size="2">I appreciate exactly what you are saying. I am wondering what is your subject? In maths where I am, the implementation of CfE has been a complete mess. No clear framework, no summative assessment, on parental involvement, no measured progress and no plan for next year.
    Methodology in my class is a mixture of new initiative (using lesson objectives, success criteria, lap boards and traffic light systems) and traditional methods (teacher led explanations, illustrated examples, straight questioning and tutorial sessions). I am not an advocate of group work but I do find that the use of "learning partners" ("working in pairs" in old speak) works well. Some concepts in maths are much better suited to a teacher led lesson and although new methods may have a place, it would be unrealistic to imagine that it is possible to deliver an entire course in this fashion. In fact, new methodologies should be seen as extra tools in your toolkit for delivering your subject and NOT as a replacement toolkit. There is nothing at all wrong with tried and tested methods which are known to be effective and teachers should not be put under any pressure to abandon them and instead be </font><font size="2">allowed to choose the most appropriate methodology to deliver a lesson for themselves. This is what is commonly known as &ldquo;professionalism&rdquo;.</font><font size="2">That&rsquo;s my opinion!</font>
  3. Spot on - but try telling the idiots at HMIE that. They appear to be dancing to someone's tune without any thought whatsoever.
  4. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    I suspect very few, if any, HMIe inspectors have any practical experience of teaching using the new CfE methodologies in a classroom.
    And, of course, most of them achieved their current educational, and professional, positions as a result of good old chalk-and-talk. In fact listening to some HMIe inspectors delivering a PowerPoint presentation suggests that they would struggle with the new methodologies they are promoting.
    It would be interesting to find out how many independent schools are embracing a CfE or are they mostly sticking to tried and tested methods. Somehow I can't see them throwing out textbooks, workbooks and jotters in favour of all singing, all dancing 'active learning'.
    Come to think of it, I wonder how many HMIe inspectors send their own children to independent schools just to avoid the muddle that is a CfE?
  5. It is an increasing truth that the money spent on screeds of literature should instead have been spent on giving inservice on what should be delivered using CfE.
    It is a muddle, it is vague in the extreme and provides no model as to what it is the teaching establishments in Scotland are meant to resemble. Resentment, default cynicism and inertia have met its attempted introduction.
    What a missed opportunity to ladle a lot of us out of our comfort zone into a new method of teaching - but to do so was not done with dignity, care, good guidance or even grace. A gun was figuratively pointed at us to discern the quasi-unedited block of diktat and attempt to make something of it.
  6. On the other hand to 'ladle us out of our comfort zone' does not entail that the teaching and learning will be any better, but it does tick the box that you have 'changed' things and with CfE one can't help but think that it is the 'change' that is the end in itself.

    As for me, I have pretty much ignored CfE and just got on with teaching. I was given a pile of new workbooks in August and to be honest they are so dull. I have gently slipped back to using the perfectly fine workbooks we used last year. When local authorities stop being complete @rses like shoving class sizes up to 33 and sacking excellent TAs on a days notice then I might take CfE more seriously. As it is now I will smile and nod during inservice days when we are told how divinely wonderful CfE but my classroom is where I direct the learning.
    Alice K likes this.
  7. Hi
    Like other mentioned posts, my expereince is EYFS and we would never entertain work sheets and colouring sheets where shuned upon as they were not considered sound learning resources.
    During my time with CfE it has turned my expereince on its head, with practice writing sheets (lines of dot-to-dot), art work all looking the same, colouring sheets, children having to sit and listen to what they are going to learn and end the week with what did we learn- all in the early years. I feel this is not supporting learning through play, which is the backbone of the EYFS.
    when I arrived here everyone was so pleased with the new system now we don't have to follow a theme, we can follow children interests, guess what we thrash out what can be learnt from a 'topic', developing a plan with expereiences and opportunties (sounds lovely), but were is the children interest. I will keep trying to understand the CfE as I believe it's here to stay and I will continue to seek out "what a good one looks like".

  8. CfE? What's that? I continue to dispatch all the shiney stuff to the filing cabinet, still waiting for something substantial or constructive to appear. I marvel at the patient subserviance of teachers that actually play the game. I have yet to find anything worthwhile in it that I don't already do. The rest amounts to a pitiful dumbing down. Oh sure, I can fill in a sheet, dressing up the things I already do with the right jargon, but truth be told CfE is an enormous, fabulously expensive waste of time and resources. Every teacher in Soctland has the flashy stuff on the shelf and how much of it ever gets read? Maybe 2% at the most! Have to laugh. I actually get told that I'm doing good CfE stuff, I smile and say thank you, and then walk away shaking my head in the knowledge that this is what I've always done. But what's happening to Standard Grade and Intermediates is nothing short of vandalism. Still haven't a clue what we're going to do with non-academics in the upper school without int 1/2 - gonna need an awful lot of crayons, pritt stick and interactive games ... Just glad my own youngest is already into Standard Grade ... But apart from that CfE is okay. lol.
  9. braemar

    braemar New commenter

    I have just heard that a central belt school is still planning to do Standard Grades for their S1 intake in S3 and take 2 years for the Higher/Intermediates. This would cause major upheaval as I was told that the Highers would be revised for this S1 cohort when they come to take them in 2015.
    I was under the impression that all state schools in Scotland have to do Curriculum for Excellence for their S1 intake. Or has this been changed?
  10. Does anyone have any comments on S1 Reports. We are in the process of preparing the "new look" reports which, scuse me, are garbage. What on earth are parents going to say when they get educational jargon instead of clear information about their child? Have you read the examples in the shiny green supplementary folders that came out recently?
  11. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    Yes, but the Early Years Foundation Stage in England sets standards for the development, learning and care of children from birth to age five years (reception).
    Whilst play has a very important role in children's development during these early years, it does not mean that there is no place for more formal learning from P1 to S6 as pupils develop and mature.
    Within a CfE, pupils are to be encouraged to decide what they want to learn and there is an emphasis on so-called 'active learning', whatever that actually means.
    However, are they learning what they need to learn so that they can make progress in education, the workplace and life in general or are they simply being kept entertained?
    Indeed, is there not a danger that 'active learning' can simply become 'hyper-active learning' and inhibit actual educational progress?
  12. coaltown1

    coaltown1 New commenter

    I totally agree! Imagine though, if you will, having a headteacher who is also an HMIE!!! It's like walking a very thin tightrope every day. Anyone can tell others what to do but I have never seen any sign of leading by example.
    We all (and by that I mean all teachers) have to play the game of nodding in the right direction whilst trying to do the best for the children - which is NOT the Cfe.
  13. I think the practice of once yearly reports being the main feedback most parents get about their children is finished.
    During our recent inspection, which by the way was carried out by a very helpful and very experienced former teacher, he suggested using the pupils homework as a form of reporting. If the parents want to know what their children are doing in school they need to become more involved than just reading one report and attending one parents evening. If homework is regular and reflects what the pupils are doing in class and feedback is written down in their jotters or whatever then parents can see what their kids are learning and what they need help with.
  14. At my (secondary) school, the clear message form management is that more homework is desirable. The trouble is that you end up giving so much homework to each of you classes that it becomes impossible to collet in the jotters and mark it. I have been trying to use comment only marking for 5 years now and it takes hours to get though all the work the kids have done for you.

    My Faculty Head has advised that the answer is to still give out loads of homework but have pupils mark it themselves. How does this square with the idea of having homework jotters forming part of the reporting process?
  15. I remember the first CfE document reaching schools in 2004. I feel much of the principles and vision upon which it is based is good. For example, the four capacities and the curriculum design principles. There's quite a debate and discussion going on about CfE on Twitter under the hastage CfEfuture and two people have a couple of interesting blog posts: www.missforbes.co.uk/?p=27 and fkelly.co.uk/2011/04/cfefuture-part-2/ Given that CfE is here to stay, how can we best ensure that we meet our children and young people's needs through its implementation. Ultimately it's up to class teachers who are at the frontline. How can we truly support each other and be positively proactive with CfE?
  16. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    Yes, but is it here to stay and for how long? They said the same about 5-14.
    How exactly is the success of a CfE going to be measured in terms of the four capacities? Is, for example, a photograph of a smiling child speaking at the front of the class really evidence that they are a confident individual?
    I have no problem with pupils being successful learners. My concern is that many average, and below average, pupils are going to struggle to acquire even the basic skills required to make educational progress because formal programmes of work are being discouraged under a CfE.
    The approach that has been taken with a CfE is a bit like giving teachers some rough sketches and designs for a super new car. Teachers are expected to drive the new car but unfortunately it hasn't been built yet. Apparently each individual teacher, and school, has to invent the super new car for themselves and there's to be no sharing of information.
    Perhaps some teachers, after many hours of work, will come up with a car that gets from A to B, whilst others will end up with a vehicle that is cobbled together, slow and potentially dangerous. The question is, at what point does someone suggest that such an approach is not a particularly efficient way to design, and build, a new car or for that matter a school curriculum.
    When the SG decided to pull out of international school comparison studies was it really just to save money? If educational standards in our schools continue to fall will the powers-that-be even know or care?
    I suspect some class teachers who are in the front line may find ways to mitigate the damage to pupils by paying lip-service to the principles of a CfE whilst getting on with what they know actually works.
    However, in a profession committed to doing the best for pupils, should that really be necessary?
  17. This thread is proving to make very interesting reading. I'd really like to express an opinion on so many of the issues which have been raised, but I'll limit myself to just a couple of brief points just now before answering the original question.

    For some time now I've been concerned about the developing dichotomy of the discussions surrounding CfE [http://fkelly.co.uk/2010/03/teachers-perceptions-of-cfe/] which seems to be still the case from many of the comments in this thread. For some reason the debate seems to quite often be about one extreme or the other. Old versus new. Fixed versus flexible. And so on. I personally believe that the truth lies somewhere in between but that on too many occasions those who are promoting the new or the flexible etc have over-stressed their point and failed to clarify the need for balance. Ultimately, as has been expressed already in this thread, much of this debate is irrelevant - it's about what works best for our children and young people. Again, however, there seems to be various assumptions in this thread that some are interested in anything other than this. I don't agree with this. The vast majority of the ideas underpinning CfE have a sound educational rationale and the whole exercise is without doubt, in my opinion, about improving life chances. How these ideas have been communicated and implemented is surely up for discussion - but I think it's inaccurate to imply ulterior motives.

    In reference to the curriculum as "rough sketches and designs for a super new car", I think we need to be very careful here. This analogy for me makes the assumption of a curriculum as being a set of technical instructions which need to be carefully followed by low skilled technicians to produce a consistent product. We're not far off a Big Mac analogy to education here I think. In the current climate, is this really the argument we want to be making?

    And finally, the original question...what's your opinion of CfE so far? For me the key words in this question are 'so far'. There is clearly still a lot to do. The concept that excellence could ever be 'implemented' was always going to be entirely erroneous. I think that CfE has provided very many teachers with the opportunity to provide the educational experiences they've long known they needed to be delivering but felt unable to. We still need to resolve some key outstanding issues but ultimately Scotland has taken a very important step in the right direction.
  18. As yet, I've not heard of any intention to replace CfE, have you? However, my understanding is that CfE is not prescriptive, but is guidance. Thus if a school has a better, or more suitable curriculum for its children and young people then this can be adopted or adjusted or changed as needed. Likewise, classroom practitioners can take different approaches to learning and teaching to meet the needs of the children and young people. For example, I like taking learning outdoors and do this when I know it will make a positive difference to the children.

    I sincerely hope that the success of CfE is going to be measured in many ways and not simply by claims of achieving the four capacities. CfE is so much more than the four capacities, don't you think? Have you developed or noticed any ways to implement any aspect of CfE and monitor the impact?

    I'm wondering if there is confusion about what CfE enables or disables schools from doing. I was under the impression that formal programmes of work or specific approaches within the formal curriculum may be used carefully and judiciously. For example, the Critical Skills Programme dovetails nicely with much of CfE. As you stated, it's all in the implementation and being effective in ensuring any learning activity is undertaken is appropriate, well-paced, etc., etc. Slavish following of a textbook or programme of work, has never been considered good teaching practice.

    I think your car analogy is interesting yet I find it confusing. If only a curriculum were like a car!?! (If only our children and young people were like robots? I hope not). I do not want a mass-produced Honda Civic-type of curriculum produced in a factory by people who have no idea whether it is the right car for me and the children I work with. Custom-built has always be considered higher quality and therefore of higher value. Many mechanics love tinkering around with cars and putting them together. Are you suggesting that teachers should only ever work on a mass produced curriculum? Is this all we are good enough to do?

    There is lots of guidance around and opportunities to share practice. In fact, aren't schools are encouraged to work with other schools in their cluster? There's many ways to share and support other practitioners - posting on this forum is one example or adding resources for others to view. I'm extremely grateful to colleagues on Twitter who keep me up to speed with what can be achieved, particularly with ICT. I thoroughly enjoy and use ideas suggested by some pre-school blogs.

    I would love to know if standards are truly falling in schools. Are they? What, then should each and every one of us be doing to reverse this trend? I wonder if historically people have always perceived this, a bit like Aristotle bemoaning how dreadful teenagers were compared to his youth. Having seen samples of my own work as a child, I'm not so sure standards are falling. Maybe I just went to schools with low standards and expectations. Or perhaps I simply wasn't clever. Having read hundreds of job application forms, I can't say I've noticed any age related differences in applicants' abilities to spell, use grammar and complete a form accurately.

    Like other teachers I feel I'm failing children who do not make sufficient progress. But I tend to examine my own methods and approaches in the first instance rather than blaming a curriculum. As a teacher, I feel I should be a master of the curriculum rather than a slave to it.
  19. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    In the analogy I used, I was suggesting perhaps somewhat vaguely in the spirit of a CfE, that a CfE is neither a curriculum nor has it, as yet, been shown to be excellent.
    No, a curriculum shouldn't be a set of instructions which need to be carefully followed by low skilled technicians to produce a consistent product.
    Yet, that is the approach that has been adopted in many primary schools over the last six or seven years. Up and down the country, teachers have been advised to discuss with the children what they are learning today, to explain what they are looking for, to write up on the board the learning outcomes and do those all important plenary sessions at the end of each lesson. Where is the freedom to use other teaching methods in such a prescribed, and formulaic, approach to learning?
    Then there is the emphasis on 'active learning', however that is actually defined, as if that is the only way, or even the best way, for pupils to learn. No need for textbooks, workbooks, worksheets, jotters or any formal work. Just download 'activities' from the internet and the pupils will learn all they need to know.
    Interestingly, the Cambridge Primary Review in England highlighted the current obsession with a 'state theory of learning', controlled by government. Similarly in Scotland, a CfE is portrayed as the answer to improving standards in our schools. How do we know? Well, because the SG and that media man, Mr Russell, have told us it's going to be a great success.
    Of course teachers should not be low skilled (and low paid) technicians producing a consistent product although perhaps the politicians would quite like it that way. Yet, neither should they be seen as 'jacks of all trades' to take on any job that is thrown their way.
    Writing a school curriculum is a full time job as is teaching a class of pupils. Expecting every school, and teacher, to reinvent the wheel is such a waste of valuable time with little guarantee that there will be consistency between schools and throughout the country. Why could they not have seconded suitably qualified teachers to write the core programmes of work? Each school could then have selected, or adapted, the core programmes of work to meet the needs of their pupils. Or would that have been just too simple?
    In suggesting that a CfE has provided teachers with the opportunity to provide the educational experiences that children need, that does presume that there is a consensus about what children 'need', in terms of education and development, and an assumption that the methodologies of a CfE will somehow meet those needs better than other approaches.
    Unfortunately, throwing oneself into a great educational experiment is no guarantee that it will not all end in tears, with pupils suffering the consequences.
  20. Thanks for the reply. I've a few thoughts on some of your comments, so I thought I'd reply like this...

    I understand that your saying here, but for me this is pedagogy - not curriculum. I know the two are intertwined in CfE (which is another matter), but this for me is not a great precedent for having a curriculum which is more prescriptive as this is quite different to the specification of content and skills. I'd also ask, who was making them and why? I think by and large this would've been their school leaders as a result of all the evidence which supports this practice. I'm not sure I have a problem with that.

    Active Learning does seem to be a slippery one to define. For me (and most who I discuss this with) Active Learning is about providing experiences which encourage the pupils to be actively involved in their own learning, or 'brains on'. Textbooks & worksheets etc can, and should, play a part in this where appropriate. We shouldn't be against textbooks - we should be against sitting pupils in front of textbooks day after day with no attempt to have them really engage in the course.

    I agree that Education is over-politicized. CfE was developed by the Curricular Review Group as a result of the National Debate, not by the SNP Government. In my opinion, the changes which are being made are the right ones, but unfortunately because of the system we live in, the changes have to be made and promoted by Government and its agencies. Ultimately, I would like to see these very same changes being implemented, but led by the profession...

    Schools have always developed their own programmes of work and associated resources, I don't think this is anything new. Yes it's not quick or easy - but nor should it be. If we're going to achieve learning experiences which are relevant to the young people in our charge and with their involvement, we're going to have to do this ourselves. The last thing I'd want is someone sitting in an ivory tower somewhere writing these things for me and leaving me stuck with following them - because that's what happens. I do think that the various support structures did pull back too far in the early stages, but I think many of them have been slowly rectifying this more recently.

    As I say, just a few brief thoughts on some of the points you've raised. It's always hard to have this sort of conversation well electronically I find...

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