Assessment Moderation and Quality Assurance: How do we avoid creating a monster?

Curriculum for Excellence Building the Curriculum 5 a Framework for Assessment: Quality Assurance and Moderation – which must win the title for one of the longest titles for any educationally related paper – sets out the practiuces and purposes of quality assurance and moderation.

In the Strategic Vision and Key Principles of Curriculum for Excellence it states that:

“The aim will be to achieve consistency in standards and expectations and build trust and confidence in teachers’ judgements. Education authorities and national partners will work together to develop the most efficient and effective approaches possible for quality assurance and moderation.”

Following some discussion with colleagues on Friday I thought it might be worth trying to work out how we might avoid creating a bureaucratic assessment monster which weighs down the real business of learning and teaching.

The remarkable and ironic thing here is that we need to protect ourselves from ourselves.  For it seems to me that we are in real danger of recreating the same reporting industry which characterised 5-14 – just because it’s what we have come to know and expect. Yet if one reads the document there does appear to be enough space for us to create something which does not sink under its own weight.

However, for us to create an efficient and effective system we need to start from a basis where we trust teacher judgements – particularly where they are locally moderated.  Yet the reality is that our automatic default position is to create systems which are designed to catch the tiny minority who might be tempted to distort assessments.

Our next national CfE Implementation event will be focussing on this issue but I hope to explore this further over the next few weeks.

Speak Up for Education


John Connell has kindly set up a channel on You Tube for people to link their own submissions to Speak up for Education.

I like John’s idea of extending this beyond Scotland and building a community of people who are passionate about education and want to open a door on their practice to the world. 

I’m loooking forward to viewing the first submission from beyond Scotland.  Remember to try to keep it to around 2 minutes. 

Now if someone could just let me know how post the above logo into my margin?

Planning for integrating skills from existing core programmes with Curriculum for Excellence: Speaking Up for Scottish Education

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Katie Nelson, Principal Teacher at King’s Meadow Primary School, Haddington, talks about the school’s Curriculum for Excellence planning. She explains how skills from the existing core 5-14 program are being integrated with the outcomes and purposeful applications of CfE.

Using a Victorian school day as a context for art and other learning experiences: Speaking Up for Scottish Education

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Kirsten Innes, NQT at King’s Meadow Primary School, talks about drawings of chimney sweeps done by her class, and how the drawing, together with drama work, writing and maths, were integrated using the context of Victorian school days.

High Standards are an outcome of high teacher expectations: Speaking up for Scottish Education

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Robert Virtue, Principal Teacher of Craft, Design and Technology at Musselburgh Grammar School, speaks up for Scottish education when he describes some of the work completed by 14 year olds at the school.  He shows us an example of integrated project work where rather than following one unit of study with another the department integrate a variety of elements into a cohesive whole.  The outcome – which builds upon work done in the two previous years – is outstanding and goes to demonstrate how Curriculum for Excellence can really lead to incredibly high standards of work. We shouldn’t settle for anything less!

First Steps Into Leadership: Speaking up for Scottish Education

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Kirsty Robertson, Staff Development Officer for East Lothian Council Education Service, Speaks up for Scottish Education as she describes the innovative First Steps into Leadership programme which she and colleagues have developed over the last two years.

Speak up for Scottish Education

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Link: Speak up for Scottish Education

I’d be delighted to accept positive examples of your practice  (in fact it doesn’t even have to be about your practice – it could be a colleague, your child’s teacher, or someone you know is doing brilliant things) .  All you have to do is set up a video camera and speak for up to two minutes on something that you think is making a positive impact.  It could be something from your daily practice with a class; something from your school or a larger scale project.  You could be a teacher, a parent, a young person, a member of support staff, headteacher, someone who works in further or higher education, or anyone with an involvement in the Scottish education process.  It doesn’t have to be new and shiny – just something which is leading to positive outcomes for learners.

If you are fed up only hearing negative stories about Scottish education or Curriculum for Excellence and want to provide some balance then send in your clips and speak up for Scottish education.

If you upload your video to You Tube and send me the URL  at I’ll attempt to categorise your submission so that others can find it easily.  The only fear I have is that our natural Scottish reticence will prevent people from speaking up in the belief that what they are doing is nothing special.  Believe me what you do is very special. It will only be by sharing this that we can counter some of the wilder assertions about how bad things are in our schools.

Good luck – and don’t be shy!

An Inconvenient Thinker?

I’ve been called most things in my career but a new one came my way last week when I was described as an “inconvenient thinker”. 

Not sure if was meant to be an insult or a compliment?

On reflection I’m probably quite chuffed that someone took the trouble to come up with such an inventive epithet……………………..I think.

It reminded me of the time when David Cameron (no not that one) called me a “radical traditionalist” – now that really did confuse me.