Progress On Curriculum For Excellence: Decisions From June Management Board Meeting

The following letter was sent from Colin MacLean, Chair of the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board, to Headteachers and College Principals on 22nd July. It outlines the decisions made at the June Management Board meeting:

Dear Colleague


1. I am writing to update you on further progress on Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and would ask that you share this information with all of your teaching staff and others who support learning.

2. I last wrote to you in May about progress made to that date. My letter included an update on advice from the CfE Management Board on the timetable for introduction of the new qualifications following its meeting on 22 April.

3. The purpose of this letter is to update you about decisions made by the Management Board at its most recent meeting on 16 June, specifically about key decisions on recognition of literacy and numeracy skills developed through CfE and about reporting to parents and learners.

4. I mentioned in my May letter that a significant factor in the Management Board considerations when providing its advice was the ten point plan announced by the Cabinet Secretary on 30 March. The ten point plan included a proposal for literacy and numeracy units to be built into English and Maths qualifications to simplify the system for formally recognising these skills which will be developed across the curriculum. Management Board welcomed the Cabinet Secretary’s proposal to remove the qualifications in literacy and numeracy from S3 and agreed to provide advice in due course on an alternative approach.

5. At its meeting in June the Board agreed the following approach to recognising literacy and numeracy skills developed through CfE, subject to the outcome of detailed work being taken forward by SQA and further consideration by the Board as that work progresses. The approach agreed is that:

  • the S3 profile will have a focus on literacy and numeracy skills and will be seen as the main means by which learners gain recognition of the literacy and numeracy skills they have developed across their broad general education up to the end of S3. This would build on the annual reporting of progress in literacy and numeracy in each year prior to S3;
  • freestanding units in literacy and numeracy will be made available at SCQF levels 3, 4 and 5;
  • at SCQF levels 3 and 4, these units will be designed to form part of English and Mathematics courses;
  • at SCQF level 5, appropriate coverage of literacy and numeracy skills will be embedded across English and Mathematics courses. At SCQF Level 5, English and Mathematics courses also need to focus on higher order skills in order to prepare learners for progression. Therefore embedding of literacy and numeracy will provide partial coverage of these skills in English and Mathematics courses. SQA would not certificate literacy and numeracy skills on this basis as coverage is partial. For those who require or would like certification, free standing units in literacy and numeracy will be available. Guidance will be provided to show what evidence can be extracted from courses and, with some topping-up of evidence, can be used to gain certification of literacy and numeracy through free standing units.

6. Further information about the formal recognition of literacy and numeracy skills will be provided during the qualification development process. SQA is working directly with the education community to make sure that all new qualifications take forward the aims of Curriculum for Excellence and meet the needs of schools, colleges, learners and end users. SQA will also be maximising the use of their website and other on-line communication to share information and encourage feedback from a wider professional audience. Information on proposals for the future suites of National Courses will be published in SQA’s Overview of Qualification reports for each curriculum area which will be available on their website from the end of July. People can also sign up to SQA’s ‘My Alerts Service’ ( to receive email alerts of the latest CfE news from SQA direct to their in-box.

7. Finally, Management Board approved advice on reporting which was issued at the end of June and is available on the CfE website within the BtC 5 suite of documents. That advice indicates that parents and learners will continue to receive reports on progress in all curriculum areas, including literacy and numeracy, at all stages. Reports will also provide information on a learner’s progress within and through curriculum levels and the guidance provides further advice on reporting progress within a level.

8. I appreciate that I am sending this letter in the holiday period but I know many of you have in-service CPD days planned for the first few days of the new academic year and wanted you to have the update in good time for the discussions you will be having then. Many thanks in advance for your help in disseminating this information as widely as possible.

Yours sincerely

Colin MacLean
Chair, Curriculum for Excellence Management Board