A Curriculum for Excellence

A Curriculum for Excellence

A school curriculum describes what children and young people do in school. In pre-school classes the curriculum promotes children’s emotional, personal and social development as well as encouraging intellectual, physical and creative skills through play activities and learning by example. The primary school curriculum includes the areas which develop children’s basic skills such as mathematics, language, expressive arts, environmental studies, religious/moral education and personal and social development. Then, in secondary schools, the curriculum involves the subject areas, such as geography, history, languages, etc, and the courses which lead to assessment and qualifications.

This is the way education has been defined for many years, with little variation. As times change education needs to change too, to prepare children and young people for future life and work.

A Curriculum for Excellence takes a new and different approach …

1. Through A Curriculum for Excellence, young people will be given the best possible chance to realise their potential for a successful future.
2. Excellence in education means putting the child first and equipping every young person with the knowledge and skills most suited to their particular talents and aspirations.
3. A strong emphasis will be placed on literacy, numeracy, citizenship, health and well-being and the essential skills for life and work.

A Curriculum for Excellence asks: ‘What is education for?’

The Scottish Executive set up a group to review the curriculum in 2003, its task was to identify the purposes of education for children from the age of 3 to 18, and some general principles which would help to create a curriculum to achieve those purposes.

successful learners confident individuals

The purposes of education are to enable all young people to become:

responsible citizens effective contributors
to society and at work

What will this mean for schools and other educational establishments?

They will need to consider all that they do and how it enables children and young people to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. This includes looking at learning and teaching activities, day-to-day experiences, events and celebrations.

What is happening now?

· The present curriculum is being reviewed to make sure that is it up-to-date, challenging, enjoyable and relevant. Opportunities for choice are being considered to allow a range of choices from play activities, through to programmes which allow greater depth of study.

· Educators and schools are looking at what they are doing now and how that fits in with the four purposes.

· New ‘Skills for work’ courses are being developed and introduced.

In 2006-2007 schools were trialling elements that will make up the revised guidance on the curriculum, aiming to create a single framework for all children and young people aged 3 to 18. This is seen as the beginning of an ongoing review of the curriculum to keep it updated and relevant.

How can I get involved as a parent?

  •  You might like to discuss the information in this leaflet with your child’s school or pre-school centre.
  •  If you want to find out more about A Curriculum for Excellence there is a website with more detail and up to date information on developments. It can be found at :www.ltsscotland.org.uk/curriculumforexcellence

 A Curriculum for Excellence

A Curriculum for Excellence takes a new and different approach to describing what children and young people do in school.…

It asks “What is education for?”

Following the National Debate on Education held in 2002, ministers set up a curriculum review group. The group’s task was to identify the purposes of education for children from the age of 3 until 18, and some general principles which would help to create a curriculum designed to achieve the new purposes.

The group was asked:

To take a broad view of children’s development and to consider some of the wider external factors which might influence what children need to learn – for example, changing patterns of work and the increased use of new technology and computers.

To consider children’s experiences in a wide range of settings – early years centres, colleges, out of school clubs and at home as well as school itself – in order to bear in mind the wide range of adults directly involved in the education of children and young people.

So what are the purposes of education in Scotland?

The hope for all children and every young person is that they should become:

· confident individuals
· successful learners
· responsible citizens
· effective contributors to society and at work.

The curriculum should provide the support, structure and direction to young people’s learning so that they develop in all of these four areas.

A confident individual will have:

– self respect
–  a sense of wellbeing – physically, mentally and emotionally
–  a set of values and beliefs
–  ambition

A successful learner will have

– enthusiasm and motivation for learning
– determination to achieve high standards
– openness to new thinking and ideas.

A responsible citizen will have

– respect for others
– a commitment to participate responsibly in political, economic, social and cultural life.

An effective contributor to society and at work will have

– an enterprising attitude
– resilience
– self reliance.

The bottom line is that we must educate our children and young people to become better equipped for life.

What will this mean for schools?

Schools will need to consider all that they do and how it contributes to children and young people achieving the purposes. Learning in schools will take place through a wide range of planned experiences.

These will include:
Ø environmental
Ø scientific
Ø technological
Ø historical
Ø social
Ø economic
Ø political
Ø mathematical and linguistic contexts
Ø the arts
Ø culture and sports.

Sometimes the experiences may be linked to particular vocational or other specialised settings. Children will also learn through the day-to-day experiences of the life of the school community, with its values and social contact, and from out-of-school activities, events and celebrations. Taken together, these experiences should provide a motivating and enriching blend.

The principles for curriculum design

When planning the activities and experiences for children and young people, teachers will have to ensure that the following principles are applied.

Challenge and enjoyment: Learning opportunities should provide both challenge and enjoyment. Children should be active in their learning and have opportunities to develop and demonstrate their creativity.

Breadth: There should be sufficient breadth in each young person’s overall experience. All young people should have opportunities for a broad range of activities so that they can learn and develop in a variety of ways.

Progression: Children’s learning should be progressive, building on earlier knowledge and achievements.

Depth: As well as having a broad range of experiences, young people should also have opportunities to work in depth. As they progress they should be able to draw different strands of learning together and explore and achieve more advanced levels of understanding.

Personalisation and Choice: Children’s individual needs should be recognised and their particular talents and skills supported and developed. They should have opportunities to exercise responsible personal choice as they move through their school career.

Coherence: Children’s learning activities should combine to form a coherent whole. There should be clear links between the different aspects of young people’s learning.

Relevance: Children and young people should understand the purposes of their activities. They should be able to see the value of what they are learning and its relevance to their lives, in the present and the future.

What is actually happening?

· A Programme Board was established in 2006 to take an overview and give strategic direction to the work involved in turning these commitments into reality.

· Educators and schools are considering what they already do against the purposes and principles. They are looking at how effective their existing methods and content are in achieving the four purposes.

· New ‘Skills for work’ courses are being developed and introduced.

· The content of curriculum areas is being reviewed by groups of educational practitioners. The groups are producing specific ideas on what needs to be changed and how that will be achieved – the emphasis is very much on how children should be taught. These ideas will be tested by teachers in schools before for new curriculum guidance is formally drawn up for all educators.

When will these changes happen?

It will take time to develop the guidance and to provide the training teachers will need to deliver the new curriculum.

· Over the school year 2005 -06 schools and educators have been discussing the purposes and principles. They also worked on some of the practical issues that are coming out of this discourse.
· in 2006 – 2007 schools trialled elements that will make up the revised guidance on the curriculum, creating a single framework for all children and young people 3 to 18. This is seen as the beginning of an ongoing review of the curriculum to keep it updated and relevant.

You can also contact Angus MacRury to find out what’s happening in Innerwick .

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