I responded positively to an invitation to attend Curriculum for Excellence 2.0 The Gaitherin’ on Saturday past in Edinburgh. It was described as an ‘unconference’ which was intriguing. The focus was very much on the involvement of all the participants with limited input from facilitators Rowena Arshad, Neil McLennan and Robin Macpherson.
The event had high level aspirations. It aimed to be “the starting point of a grass roots education revolution in Scotland, reforming Curriculum for Excellence aspirations into the next decade” and was aimed at “practitioners, researchers and policy makers interested in reforming Curriculum for Excellence to meet the high aspirations for Scotland’s education system.”
It was a wonderful day of thought, discussion and debate and the unconference format certainly worked. It brought together people from many facets of the education system and I met many colleagues for the first time. In the end, my feeling was that, in itself, Curriculum for Excellence has suffered in its implementation and certainly in the assessment approaches used as far as its stated aim to help “children and young people gain the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for life in the 21st century, including skills for learning, life and work.” Around two dozen ideas to take forward were distilled from the day’s deliberations. This will be done through a summary paper and EduMod events (https://www.summerhousemedia.com/edumod-programme/) at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
I suppose that everyone who attended and contributed will have left, like me, with a headful of questions swirling round and touchstones gleaned from the discussions. I am thinking most deeply about the importance of values in the whole process. Values govern the beliefs that we have in our approach to life, how we respond to the organisations in which we work and the nature our contribution to society.
In the case of Curriculum for Excellence, if schools, and individuals working within them have a value system that leads them to sincerely believe in its principles and be committed to it as the means to prepare young people for success in 21stCentury Scotland then it will deliver for them.
I wonder whether the values and beliefs at all levels within the Scottish Education system are well enough aligned with Curriculum for Excellence at the moment and whether there is enough commitment to its value to all young people as individuals?