Education

Some Thoughts on Scotland’s Implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence

Earlier this year when writing for the Guardian about the ongoing political row around Scotland’s performance in the international comparison table known as PISA, I visited Currie High School on the outskirts of Edinburgh and spoke to a group of young people who were gathered in the lab to discuss their experience of science at school with me. After the chat, where the students were generally enthusiastic and complimentary about their science lessons, I asked if anyone would consider becoming a High School Science teacher. Silence. Why not? “I just can’t stand children, Miss” answered one bright spark. After a pause, another offered the reason that it would be just “too much hard work” - and there was a chorus of agreement with this sentiment.(some students from Currie)

Read more: Some Thoughts on Scotland’s Implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence

May v Sturgeon: Scottish Education Swept up in Political War of Words

By Jackie Kemp, Published in the Guardian, March 21, 2017.

From James Watt’s steam engine to Dolly the sheep, Scotland is proud of its strong science tradition, so a recent fall in the international rankings of Scottish pupils in science is causing a degree of national soul-searching.

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Is the Curriculum for Excellence Dumbing Down Scottish Education?

What do we mean by a good education? It’s not the same as being intelligent of course. Many people have potential which has not been realised, and that is, in a nutshell “the attainment gap.”

An educated young person has skills they can take with them into the world. But should these include reasonable fluency in a modern language, an understanding of the sciences, maths, some knowledge of literature and history? Or, in this age of easy fact-finding on the internet does an educated person mean: a successful learner, a confident individual, a responsible citizen and an effective contributor, as Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence has it?

The Scottish government is wrestling with the implementation of this curriculum, which was intended to build on the concept of the “democratic intellect”, a generalist approach favouring interdisciplinary study. But how is it working in practice?

There was an interesting article in online magazine Sceptical Scot last week by the principal of George Heriot’s in Edinburgh Cameron Wyllie in which he reported a doubling of of the number of parents trying to get their children into the school at Senior 3. There were 45 applicants to S3 at GH this year after a record high of 25 in 2015. He said that this picture was being replicated at other independent schools in the city. Not big numbers perhaps, but Senior Three is not a traditional entry point for Edinburgh’s independent schools. Places are as rare as hens’ diamante scarf pins. Adam Smith himself might have trouble getting into a Merchant Company school age 14.

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Children tell the Scottish Cabinet what they want.



Children’s Parliament Imagineers show off their mural.

On a recent afternoon, as a weak Spring sun shone over Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square picking out crocuses in the square’s central garden, the door of  Bute House  - official residence of Scotland’s First Minister - opened and a group emerged from a lengthy consultation with the Scottish Cabinet. They huddled together on the steps, reporting to an accompanying cameraman about the event. But as they did so they began to hop around and skip up and down the steps in a manner most unusual for the dignitaries who generally emerge from discussing affairs of state there.

These delegates were all primary school children -  a small group from the Children’s Parliament (CP) which had come to talk to Nicola Sturgeon and Education Minister John Swinney, as well as other members of the Cabinet and Scottish Government officials about what is important to children in Scotland today.

Read more: Children tell the Scottish Cabinet what they want.

A Children's Food Fight and the Edinburgh Fringe

Children and food. What a lot is in those three little words. A recent argument on Mumsnet and Women's Hour (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0640j5f Tuesday August 11) reminded me of the anxiety I used to sometimes feel as a parent about what, how, when and why my children were eating.

The row was about an assertion that mums today are 'addicted" to feeding their children constant snacks,  On the show food writers Annabel Karmel and Joanna Blythman slugged it out, with Blythman arguing for three square meals eaten round a table and water in between; while Karmel voiced sympathy for struggling parents trying to get their children nutritiously fed and watered each day without too much stress. 

Read more: A Children's Food Fight and the Edinburgh Fringe