Implementing A Curriculum for Excellence – Situation Statement


Apologies for the squint photo of the above model.  I’ll post something a bit more comprehensive later in the week.  Click on the photo for an enlarged version.

In the following post (which will – eventually -be very long) I’ll attempt to use the Program Logic Model to describe a possible national implementation strategy for A Curriculum for Excellence.

Stage 1 Situation Analysis

Description – The situation is the foundation for logic model development. The problem or issue that the program is to address sits within a setting or situation–a complex of sociopolitical, environmental, and economic conditions. If you incorrectly understand the situation and misdiagnose the problem, everything that follows is likely to be wrong.

Take time to understand the situation and carefully define the problem. This may be the most important step. As you do so, consider the following questions:

  1. What is the problem/issue?
  2. Why is this a problem? (What causes the problem?)
  3. For whom (individual, household, group, community, society in general) does this problem exist?
  4. Who has a stake in the problem? (Who cares whether it is resolved or not?)
  5. What do we know about the problem/issue/people that are involved? What research, experience do we have? What do existing research and experience say? UWEX

Situation Analysis of Scottish Education (the following situation analysis draws heaviliy upon the Executive Summary of the OECD Report on the Quality and Equity of Schooling in Scotland ,Dec 2007)

A major challenge facing Scottish schools is to reduce the achievement gap that opens up about Primary 5 and continues to widen throughout the junior secondary years (S1 to S4). Children from poorer communities and low socio-economic status homes are more likely than others to under-achieve, while the gap associated with poverty and deprivation in local government areas appears to be very wide.

A second challenge relates to the need to build on the strong platform of basic education through socially broader and more successful participation in upper secondary education and greater equity in Scottish higher education. Inequalities in staying-on rates, participation at different academic levels of national courses, and pass rates in these courses are a concern. So, too, are the number of young people leaving school with minimal (and in some cases no) qualifications and the  comparatively high proportion in precarious transition.

A third challenge relates to static levels of achievement in national qualifications over the last eight years at a time when other countries are showing improvement in comparison to Scotland.

 Local authorities have only limited influence over the curriculum in schools and over the full range of learning opportunities available to the communities they serve. Promotion of change in schools is hampered by the vulnerability of schools to adverse perceptions and judgements based on examination results. Although local authorities are the  employers of teachers and the builders of schools, their influence is limited by wider arrangements which have a centralizing and conforming effect.

Schools need substantial freedom of action within a framework of agreed goals and  outcomes to vary the courses and to offer programmes which best address these challenges. Greater management freedom in these two areas needs to be part of a compact with local government which establishes expectations in exchange for autonomy, and encourages and protects innovation and risk-taking through an authoritative mandate.

 The OECD review considers that greater flexibility is needed in arrangements linking local councils to the Scottish Government, and linking schools in turn to local government. But without greater flexibility in arrangements relating to curriculum, examinations, and qualifications, more autonomy for councils and schools will not go far.

Any analysis of the situation in Scottish Education must also recognise  that budgets are under extreme pressure and this is likely to be the case for a number of years as the global recession impacts upon the Scottish economy and public services in particular.

Stage 2 Priority Setting

 Description: From the situation comes priority setting. Once the situation and problem are fully analyzed, priorities can be set. Seldom can we undertake everything so we have to prioritize. Several factors influence your determination of focus; these include your mission, values, resources, expertise, experience, history, what you know about the situation, and what others are doing in relation to the problem.

Priority Setting for Implementing A Curriculum for Excellence

  • Greater school autonomy within a local government framework
  • Improving learner attainment and achievement
  • Local authority Curriculum Frameworks within swhich schools can develop their own curriculum
  • Closing the achievement gap

 Stage 3 Assumptions

Description: Assumptions are the beliefs we have about the program and the people involved and the way we think the program will work. This is the “theory” we are talking about: the underlying beliefs in how it will work. These are validated with research and experience. Assumptions underlie and influence the program decisions we make. Assumptions are principles, beliefs, ideas.

Assumptions about the Implementation of A Curriculum for Excellence

 I’ve already explored this in a previous post – see Clarifying Asumptions


  • Teachers are professionals who want to make a positive difference to children’s lives;
  • Where teachers are empowered to work together they can create outstanding learning environments for children and young people;
  • Teachers naturally want to talk and learn from each other about their practice;
  • Teachers want to engage in dialogue about their own educational practice with a view to improving their craft.
  • The school is the key unit of curricular creation and professional development.
  • Schools should be encouraged to create curricular models which suit their own context
  • School leaders can create environments where teachers want to learn.
  • Teams of teachers working collectively towards a common purpose can have a more positive impact upon practice than any other strategy.
  • Teachers are partners in the curriculum development process.

More to follow……

3 thoughts on “Implementing A Curriculum for Excellence – Situation Statement

  1. I just wanted to say, since there have been no comments for a while, and you are producing so much, that I am fascinated by the content of these posts, and also by the way the thought processes and analysis is unfolding. Fascinating indeed.
    I look forward to reading what follows.

  2. A promising start… Do you intend to continue with step 4 etc.?
    Being myself involved in researches concerning the Scottish curriculum, I would be really interested in your developments. I was hoping to find here something about how the Curriculum for Excellence might impact on the way of teaching and learning in secondary and adult education…

    Nice greetings from Berlin,
    Léna Krichewsky

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