By Richard Fraser, Editor
16 January 2020 + updates of 6 and 26 February 2020 below video link
In the Education Debate of 15 January 2020 in the Scottish Parliament, MSPs voted for a full review of the senior phase of the Curriculum for Excellence. Education Secretary John Swinney was defeated in an attempt to block calls for a comprehensive review.
The Education and Skills Committee is already undertaking an independent review of the senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence, but the Conservatives put forward a motion calling for that inquiry to be extended to include ‘a full review of the broad general education and how it articulates with the senior phase’.
The motion was backed by 63 votes with 60 against.
The MSPs also urged the government to accept there were ‘some key weaknesses in some key aspects of Scotland’s school education and the qualifications structure that challenge its claim that Scotland’s schools are producing “a strong set of results”’.
Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said there were some ‘encouraging aspects of attainment in Scottish schools’ but cited the recent Programme for International Assessment (PISA) results, saying that, although reading scores had improved, they were ‘not back to 2012 levels’. She also highlighted ‘the four-year decline in Higher pass rates’.
Mr Swinney argued that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had reviewed the broad general education – which runs from age three to 15 – back in 2015 and the Scottish Government was in the process of implementing those recommendations.
Click on the image to watch the debate of 15 January 2020 (opens in new window):
Update: 6 February 2020
Education Secretary John Swinney has written to Holyrood's Education Committee (pdf), announcing his decision to widen the review to cover the whole of Curriculum for Excellence, rather than just focus on the senior phase.
The Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will lead the expanded review, with the findings due early next year (BBC News).
Update: 26 February 2020
On 25 February, the Education Committee called for a subject by subject focus in the upcoming education review and this was raised when John Swinney was questioned in Parliament on the highers results.
The review will cover the Broad General Education and the Senior Phase and the articulation between the two. It will explore key issues including:
- curriculum design;
- depth and breadth of learning in the Senior Phase;
- local flexibility versus increased prescription;
- the transition from the BGE into Senior Phase;
- vocational and academic learning and awards; and
- roles and responsibilities in relation to the curriculum.