Following from my recent post on #EduPIC11, I decided to dig a little deeper into the current state of play around Scottish education and ask the question – Curriculum for Excellence – do we need to fix it?

I conclude that the ‘back end’ of the education system is rigid and based on traditional concepts of curriculum design – although the ‘front end’ (or the learning and teaching process) is contemporary and fit for the 21st Century. I have presented my thoughts as a written paper (exert below).

The full transcript / paper can be downloaded here: Curriculum for Excellence Do We Need To Fix It?

In 2004, Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) became the buzz phrase for education reform in Scotland. In retrospect, The Scottish Government should never have called it that. The word curriculum comes from the Latin word for race course, referring to the experiences through which children and young people develop and become mature adults. A curriculum is prescriptive, and is normally based on a more general syllabus which specifies what topics must be understood and at what level, so that the student can achieve a particular grade or standard. If we strip that back, and reflect on what we have achieved in six years, CfE has evolved and became more that the sum of its parts. It is not just a reform of the curriculum and standards but a transformational change to the learning and teaching process. Indeed, the philosophy of CfE which realises the potential for all children and young people to grow into successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens requires more than simple tinkering around the edges.

The 21st Century is a complex and diverse world. There are so many external influences in a young person’s life that changing the qualification structure and assessment criteria is not going to achieve the ambition reflected in the philosophy. When one stands back and looks at the wider education system in Scotland, there are other actors and influences which impact on the ability of a young person to thrive. We need to recognise what these actors are and articulate them across our social policies.



Posted by Lee Dunn

Academic Staff University of Glasgow and Author of Science Fiction


  1. Vg Lee background music is too loud though. Brilliant focus for debate.

  2. Thanks Tony – the vodcast is a work in progress – you must have caught it before I removed it as I’m having bother uploading via the school network – typical firewall issues preventing progress lol

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