Head teacher criticises Scotland’s curriculum for being unclear and confusing

Scotland’s curriculum for school education has been challenged by a head teacher who claims it is vague and ambiguous, leaving schools unsure about what to teach and how to assess students.

Curriculum for Excellence under scrutiny

The head teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, has written a letter to the Scottish government, expressing his concerns about the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), which aims to provide a holistic, coherent, and future-oriented approach to learning between the ages of 3 and 18.

The letter, which was obtained by The Scotsman, states that the CfE is “thoroughly confused” and “lacks clarity, coherence, and rigour”. The head teacher argues that the CfE does not specify the essential knowledge and skills that students should acquire, nor does it provide clear guidance on how to measure their progress and attainment.

The head teacher also claims that the CfE is based on a constructivist philosophy of education, which emphasises the application of knowledge rather than its abstract propositions. He says that this approach is “pedagogically ineffective” and “intellectually dishonest”, as it neglects the importance of factual knowledge and logical reasoning.

The head teacher warns that the CfE is harming the quality of education in Scotland, and calls for a review and reform of the curriculum. He says that the CfE is “a betrayal of a whole generation of children” who deserve a better education.

The Scottish government defends the CfE

The Scottish government has responded to the letter, defending the CfE and its implementation. A spokesperson for the government said that the CfE is “widely supported” by teachers, parents, and learners, and that it has been endorsed by all five political parties in the Scottish Parliament.

Head teacher criticises Scotland’s curriculum for being unclear and confusing

The spokesperson also said that the CfE is “flexible and adaptable” to the needs and interests of individual learners, and that it gives teachers autonomy and professional judgement to decide what to teach and how to assess. The spokesperson added that the CfE is “continually reviewed and improved” to ensure that it meets the highest standards of education.

The spokesperson also cited the recent report by the OECD, which praised the CfE for its inspiring and progressive vision of education. The report, which was published in June 2023, stated that the CfE offers “an opportunity to develop a truly innovative curriculum” that prepares students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

The debate continues

The letter by the head teacher has sparked a debate among educators, policymakers, and researchers about the merits and drawbacks of the CfE. Some have supported the head teacher’s views, saying that the CfE is too vague and confusing, and that it fails to provide a rigorous and coherent curriculum. Others have disagreed, saying that the CfE is a visionary and innovative curriculum, and that it empowers teachers and learners to create meaningful and relevant learning experiences.

The debate reflects the different perspectives and philosophies of education that exist in Scotland and beyond. It also raises questions about the purpose and goals of education, the role and responsibility of teachers, and the best ways to design and deliver a curriculum that meets the needs and aspirations of students.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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