Curriculum For Excellence – creativity for educators?


Written by Gillian Campbell-Thow:

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) in Scotland has given teachers the chance to really be creative, innovative and enable young people to become, “successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.”

So where are we 11 years later?

Many people will argue it was implemented without any sense of what was actually going on in classes. Did we get the de- clutter of the primary curriculum we were promised? Why have some subjects been squeezed from broad general education? Oh yes, there is the small matter of exams.

However, CfE for me, has meant the chance to deliver an excellent curriculum for my learners. It’s allowed me to teach the languages that I love, to share a window on the world with my learners and most of all equip each one of them with knowledge and skills that they will use outside of the classroom and throughout their life.

The reaction that some people had when handed back their professional autonomy and decision making about teaching their subject (in secondary ) was very telling. As a modern languages teacher, I watched people running back to the safety of their Tour de France books when presented with those ” wee codes” ( CfE experiences and outcomes)  Teachers then came back out of hiding and attempted to tag the codes on to what they were currently doing without realising that in front them was a unique opportunity to embrace the philosophy, creativity and skills development that CfE had badged up quite nicely.

Reflecting on my own experience as a learner at school and fabulous teachers I had ( very much pre-curriculum for excellence) it’s not hard to see that good teaching is and always had been good teaching. Now, we may be immersing ourselves in endless courses about learning intentions, success criteria, collaborative learning, the 70 AiFL techniques, critical skills etc, but I was lucky, my teachers were doing that before it was the latest in thing. I knew where I was going in my learning , I knew what I had to work on ( oh yes I did!) and group work and collaborative learning were quite frankly, just what we did.

11 years down the CfE garden path I think it’s positively blooming. A lot of the teaching and learning that goes on in my classroom happens because of where the learners take it. The teaching techniques I use are a bit like my parenting skills,  I watched and learned  from the best in the business ( yes , my mammy was an educator too but I have been privileged to work with the most inspiring language teachers ever) I’ve been able to do my own collaborative learning with my colleagues, I have been able to share my learning intentions with my team and self evaluate with success criteria and use critical skills,HOTS and those pesky wee codes.

I have no intentions of defining my teaching and the learning of my students by codes however the freedom to deliver curricular content that motivates me as a teacher, engages the children as learners and gives them the chance to progress and experience success will do nicely.

I’m enjoying my longstanding relationship with you CfE. You had me from hello.

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