Scottish Daily Mail
‘Self-evident lunacy’ of SNP curriculum, by its own expert
SCOTLAND’s disaster-prone school curriculum was yesterday attacked – by one of its key architects.
Keir Bloomer said teachers were being swamped by ‘mountains’ of guidance in an exercise in ‘selfevident lunacy’.
He told Holyrood’s education committee that the overload of ‘nearly incomprehensible’ information stands in the way of ‘de-cluttering’ the curriculum – which Mr Bloomer helped to develop.
Education Secretary John Swinney has pledged to cut teachers’ workload following complaints the profession is overburdened by bureaucracy as the SNP’s Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) has been rolled out.
Plans include scrapping some unit assessments, which are marked by teachers before pupils sit their exams, and attempting to hand more power teachers as part of a review of how schools are run.
Mr Bloomer – a former council education director who is also convener of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s education committee – said he was pleased Mr Swinney ‘is determined to do something about it’.
But he added: ‘We have allowed mountains of guidance, much of it very badly written, nearly incomprehensible, to accumulate over the years and that now stands in the way of the decluttering of the curriculum.’
Mr Bloomer also highlighted a lack of evaluation of CfE, which was introduced in 2010.
He said: ‘We do not know what progress has been made because no serious attempt has been made to evaluate it.
‘Successive governments have made claims of success in rela- tion to CfE and to be honest with you, they are based on no evidence whatsoever.’
While some political mistakes have been made, ‘most mistakes have actually been made by the leadership of the profession’, Mr Bloomer said.
He added: ‘The quality of advice that governments have received has not been strong and there has been a lack of strategic overview of the process as a whole. The overall consequence has been to obscure rather than illuminate.’
Last night, Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said: ‘Since the introduction of CfE, pupils and teachers have been placed under an excessive and unnecessary workload burden.
‘Too many teachers in the classroom still do not enjoy the professional autonomy which CfE promised because of topdown managerial approaches from a range of agencies includ ing [schools quango] Education Scotland and both local and national government.’
Last month, Mr Swinney was accused of patronising teachers by publishing new guidelines instead of tackling the problems in the curriculum.
The guidance tells teachers to ‘stop doing too many things at the same time’ and ‘avoid unnecessary bureaucracy’.
Last night, a Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘We continue to monitor a range of data on system performance which will provide a review of CfE as it is operating in schools.
‘The National Improvement Framework will enhance the evidence base against which to monitor progress in improving Scottish education, particularly closing the attainment gap.’