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EDUU9E2 Education - Learning and Teaching, University of Stirling, UK


Question: In what ways has Curriculum for Excellence sought to update Scottish education since its introduction in 2004? What challenges has it faced and to what extent has it succeeded?

1. The introduction should set the scene for the essay:

a. A sentence or two to foreground the topic (for example, what is CfE?)

b. What are the key issues that you intend to address, and how will the essay be structured?

Answer: Introduction: Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is a reform which is designed with the intention to transform the educational system in Scotland. CFE intends to provide a flexible, coherent and enriched curriculum system to the children of age 3 to 18 years (Wallace, & Priestley, 2017). The primary objective behind this reform is to make the young children give requisite skill, knowledge and attributes required to overcome the hurdles of life and work in the 21st century. Its purpose can be further summarized in four basic capacities towards making young people and children into successful learners, responsible citizens, confident individuals, and effective contributors. CFE was proposed to be implemented on eight curriculum areas, mathematics, sciences, technologies, social studies, languages, health and wellbeing, expressive arts, and religious and moral education. The curriculum has two stages, namely, broader general education and senior phase. The broader general education is designed for the children from early years to end S3, which completes after five levels. The senior phase has been proposed for S4 to S6 to generate experiences and results of broad general education. These experiences will further help the children at their young age to identify the courses and qualification which suits their interests and capabilities. There are a number of reasons for the failure of this proposal. Poor management, inefficient communication, and rejection by teachers are considered are some of the issues that will be discussed in the present report. The essay includes detailed overview of CfE, the challenges included within this framework, and its success stories. Finally, this report will be concluded with an overall summary.

2. An overview of the key ways in which CfE sought to update Scottish education?

a. You should try to show how CfE is different to what went before.

b. Remember that you do not have space to go into lots of detail - general themes are what is needed here.

Answer: Overview of CfE: Earlier the education system of Scotland focuses majorly on education and covers the minimum subject range. The previous Scottish education system was following the National Curriculum, while later it was incorporated with CfE.In this context, CFE emphasizes mostly learning ability initial stage and focuses on a wide range of subjects at the secondary level. This the framework included in this system is considered as a major educational reform that provides flexible courses and subject ranges for children aging from 3 to 18 years. For the primary teacher, a limited range of curricular areas is included such as numeracy, literacy, moral and religious education. For the secondary school the curriculum has designed specific core subjects such as chemistry, English, media studies, and philosophy. According to the new education system, in Scotland, a full-time teacher is entitled to a 40 days annual leave, the inclusion of public holidays (Shapira, & Priestley, 2018). CfE refers to "teachers of excellence" to those professionals who are hired to deliver the transformed education (Priestley, Biesta, & Robinson, 2015). These teachers are expected to remain up to date with the best educational practices. The Scottish government provides the right to the teachers for an annual professional review as well as development interviews which emphasize on their core strengths and development area.

CfE mainly focusses on the skills for life, skills for learning, and skills for work. These skills include literacy, numeracy, skills for health and wellbeing, career management skills, leadership skill, coordination skills employability skills, and thinking skills. Thus, it would be appropriate to that the framework not only focuses on learning of the subject matter, but also emphasizes on life-long learning as well as the associated application context. In order to learn the skills and recognizethe development based on learned skills, the children will be given recognition and accreditation in the form of certificates at a fixed time (periodical) interval.


3. What challenges has it faced?

a. Rather than providing a list of unrelated items, try to organise these into themes (for example: issues relating to teacher expertise/knowledge/beliefs; resource issues; etc.).

b. Try to offer a critical account, rather than just describing issues (for example, which challenges were most significant)

Answer: Challenges faced by CfE: In the initial phase of the CfE introduction, the educational reform faced a lot of challenges. Some of these challenges are described below: 

Issues related to teachers - Educational officers, politicians, HMIs, educational press, and educational commentators are on the positive side and supporting the new education system. However, the teachers and teaching professionals are on a different opinion from others. Most of the teachers are on denial position to accept the change. They are opposing the proposal and reluctant to believe positive aspects of CfE on the current education system. Instead, they are considering the reform will be the cause of the detriment of the educational system and student's future (Wallace, & Priestley, 2011). They prefer the old course enforcing the new course will create a lack of knowledge for the children. The Scottish government is also facing challenges to convince these teachers, as it has no evidence to claim the effectiveness as well as efficiency of such changed prospectus.

Issues related to the educational system - In addition to this, with the introduction of new courses, the schools have to develop and upgrade their knowledge through their own teaching materials. Undergoing the procurement of the new teaching materials creates a financial burden on teachers as well as on the educational institution (Baumfield, Hulme, Livingston, & Menter, 2010). In this context, the concerned risk lies with respect to getting the ownership of study materials, for which, all of the schools have to arrange materials differently according to their financial condition. As a result of this, the situational context have significant impact on determining the performance conduct and outcomes of learning.

The financial condition of students - The children from a richer background are able to take admission in expensive schools, where they are well equipped. These students obviously performed better than others, because they have good resources. Moreover, the new educational reform also focuses on implementing technology with the education system, such as the smartphone, internet and tablet. However, in contrary, it is evident that most of the children are not financially strong to afford this equipment and creates impartiality. As a result of this, it ultimately leads to inequality and reduced opportunity of learning among the community children.

Uneven mark distribution - CfE has reformed marking criteria for most of the subjects. The reformed educational system each subject holds course work as 70% and the practical exam as 30% (Day, & Bryce, 2013). The coursework can be done or is influenced by the tutor. Those parents who can afford tutors are able to score good marks for their children. Hence, this marking criterion is regarded as unfair by most of the students and teachers.

4. To what extent has it succeeded?

a. Has CfE achieved its aims? If so, to what extent? In which areas? Where has it been less successful?

b. Remember, this is not just your opinion - you need to reference your judgments to academic reading based upon research and expert analysis. This is contested, as some (especially in official documents from the government) claim a great deal of success, whereas others are more sceptical.

Answer: Extent of success: The government of Scotland aims to create a successful nation by providing better education to young children. The reform was developed as a result of an inquiry organized by the labor government in Scotland. It was designed in 2004 and implemented in 2007 when the new government Scottish National Party came into power (Reeves, 2016). The curriculum for excellence is considered a scenario of failure as well as success. There are numerous instances where CfE has faced experienced failure and progression. According to the report by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), this educational reform was facing a critical situation in the initial stage (Baumfield et al. 2010). However, in the later stage, it was able to accomplish some of the planned objectives. According to the report of Behavior in Scottish school research 2009, most of the pupils are well-behaved (Priestley, 2010). The most frequent low-level negative behavior observed is running in the corridor. The majority of the stops are confident for promoting positive behavior among children. As compared to the research in 2006, the overall perception of positive behavior and disciplinary action has improved to a large extent (Wallace et al. 2011). Based on the statement of the Scottish advisory group, the school communities, and local authorities unable to achieve the objectives of CfE and they should continue to practice it further. With the success of this reform, the Scottish government has introduced a "positive behavior team" for supporting the local authorities as well as educational institutions to promote positive behavior and social well-being. 

On the other hand, the Scottish survey of literacy and numeracy reported that since 2011 there has been a continuous downfall in student's attainment rate in both primary and early secondary school (Day et al. 2013). However, the report doesn't blame CfE for this output. This emphasizes the requirement of strong framework that can provide equality in terms of learning opportunity, offer better future perspectives, and create a better tomorrow (Wallace& Priestley 2011). Implementation of CfE in this context aims to develop childhood leadership in Scotland and thus enabling the developing generation to be skillful and potential to solve real-life challenges.


5. Conclusions

a. Provide a short summary of your key arguments.

b. Offer judgments about implications (for example for future development).

Answer: Conclusions: In summary, the present report describes the positive and negative consequences curriculum of excellence in the Scottish educational system. The report further outlines the key issues faced by CfE during the initial days which are based on beliefs, tutor, financial condition, resources. It is evident that the reform helped in polishing the behavior of children towards a positive aspect. However, the expected growth of educational skills within the children is not able to achieve. Conclusively it is suggested to implement the CfE through persuasive leadership with clear objectives. In addition to this, a fair education system should be emphasized in CfE by the Scottish government.

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