£3.5 million investment for schools announced to support teachers to deliver new qualifications.
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell will visit St. Augustine’s RC High School with Louise Wilson, Assistant Secretary of Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) and Tina Woolnough of the National Parent Forum Scotland (NPFS).
The visit coincides with confirmation that agreement has been reached with EIS on a package of support for teachers to ensure that delivery of new qualifications under Curriculum for Excellence remains on track.
The package of support includes:
- Additional funding of £3.5 million for secondary schools for additional training and support materials where these are required.
- Two extra in service days for secondary schools to allow teachers additional time to prepare for new qualifications.
- An expanded programme of SQA events for every principal subject teacher.
- Education Scotland and SQA will work with teachers to develop national course materials. These materials will enable teachers to then tailor their teaching for the needs of their pupils.
Mr Russell said:
“We have been listening to the concerns of teachers over the past few weeks and I thank the EIS for their positive contribution to our discussions. This package of measures aims to help ease the workload of teachers as they prepare new courses for the school year ahead.
“Education Scotland is reviewing the state of readiness to introduce new qualifications in secondary schools across Scotland. This review will identify precisely where any of the additional help and support announced today is most needed.
“We want to improve the life chances of all our children and young people and it is vitally important that we remain on track with Curriculum for Excellence for the 54,000 pupils currently in S2 and deliver new qualifications on time. I want to reassure pupils and parents that we continue on course.”
Incoming General Secretary of EIS, Larry Flanagan said:
“EIS welcomes this agreement as a successful conclusion to the detailed discussions of the last few weeks. The Cabinet Secretary has listened to the arguments presented. The detailed package represents a significant and measurable investment in the senior phase of CfE, which should allow schools to progress towards National 4 and 5 in 2013/1 4.
“The provision of course materials in all subject areas for the new National 4 and 5 qualifications directly responds to concerns over unmanageable workload and will be very welcome in schools. Taken together with the other measures, the package as a whole is a major step forward.
“We welcome the recognition that the audit being undertaken by Education Scotland should facilitate the professional input of school staff and that where further additional support is identified as being needed there is a commitment to respond to such requests.
“The framework agreed allows for schools to make clear and informed decisions which will help reassure parents and pupils that their best interests are being served and which also take forward implementation of CfE.”
Iain Ellis Chair of NPFS said:
“The National Parent Forum of Scotland is pleased that additional resources have been made available to support Curriculum for Excellence, particularly in this challenging economic climate. We hope that schools and teachers will take full advantage of these new resources and will continue with their implementation of Curriculum for Excellence.
“We anticipate that this enhanced support will ensure that implementation of the curriculum is ambitious and creative, and is focussed on delivering excellent learning experiences and outcomes for all of our children.”
The support package will respond to teachers’ concerns on workload. It focuses on securing more time for teachers to implement a Broad General Education for the current S2 cohort as it moves into S3 and to prepare for this group’s progression towards the new national qualifications in S4.
Full details are as follows:
Two additional in service days will be allocated for secondary schools for this purpose.
New and additional financial support will be allocated to schools for support materials relating to the new National 4 and 5 qualifications and potentially to facilitate additional supply cover being brought in to release classroom teachers for development activity aimed at preparing for the new courses. This will support schools, and possibly school clusters, to prioritise peer learning and development.
Course materials for the new National 4 and 5 qualifications will be developed nationally and distributed to schools well in advance of the commencement of the new qualifications in 2013/14. This is aimed primarily at reducing the workload implications of schools having to prepare new course materials.
SQA will expand its support programme to ensure every principal subject teacher can attend relevant CPD events.
Mark Dunlop : 0131 244 3070 / 07920 595 449
• ADES is fully committed to the successful implementation of Curriculum for Excellence which we see as crucially important for the young people of Scotland. We therefore welcome the additional support package for secondary schools preparing for new National Qualifications and we will be working closely with our local and national partners in education to ensure that we take full advantage of the additional resources.• ADES is fully committed to implementation of Curriculum for Excellence for all 3-18 learners in line with the published national timescale agreed by partner organisations on the Management Board.• ADES believes that Curriculum for Excellence will contribute to significant improvements in learning and teaching in Scottish schools and ultimately improved outcomes for children and young people.• ADES is very confident that the timetable for the introduction of the new national qualifications – National 4 and 5 in session 2013/14 – is both achievable and appropriate.• The S3 pupil cohort in June 2013 will all receive individual profiles which will record their progress/achievements against the Experiences and Outcomes in the broad general education phase of Curriculum for Excellence.• The entitlement to personal support will be delivered for all pupils as an integral part of the Curriculum for Excellence programme 3-18.• ADES endorses the key principles of Curriculum for Excellence, and also a holistic approach to learning as outlined in Building the Curriculum 3. This recognises 4 different contexts for learning : the ethos and life of the school and community; curriculum areas and subjects; interdisciplinary learning; and opportunities for personal achievement. It also stresses the need to make connections between these contexts.• The broad general S1-S3 is being planned in line with BTC3 which provides for personalisation and choice ‘The curriculum must include the sciences, languages and literacy, mathematics and numeracy, social studies, expressive arts, health and wellbeing, religious and moral education and technologies. All of these elements must be part of every learner’s broad general education from early years up to the end of S3, although there will be opportunities for some specialisation within areas to reflect the learner’s progress and interest’.• All curricular courses in the broad general education are or will be planned around the Experiences and Outcomes in Curriculum for Excellence and will provide a coherent pathway into the senior phase (S4-S6). • Learner pathways through the Senior Phase will build on the entitlements of Curriculum for Excellence, the Broad General Education experienced in the learner’s journey 3-15, will be varied, will reflect the needs, interests and abilities of individual learners,and will enable learners to achieve appropriate levels of qualifications at whatever point they choose to leave school.• ADES will continue to work locally and nationally with the full range of partners in education to ensure the successful delivery of Curriculum for Excellence thereby placing Scottish learners in a strong position globally.
- Make us feel comfortable and ensure that we know the team around our child, in name and in person
- Look at the whole situation and the family around the child. Many different things will affect how we and our child cope with learning e.g. transport, housing, respite, other family circumstances
- Share all the information you have about our child, in a format and in a way that we can understand, in good time for meetings or telephone discussions. Please check that we have understood it or been able to read it
- Are clear with us about whom we should contact when we seek information, wish to raise a concern or share information about our child, and how we should do this to not cause unnecessary inconvenience
- Allow enough time for meetings or phone calls
- Ask us what range of times/dates would be possible for us for meetings – we may have childcare to organize, or several other appointments relating to our child
- Are specific about the topics of discussion at meetings in advance, and ask us if we have anything we would like to talk about
- Let us know who will be at meetings, in advance, and describe what their role is in relation to our child
- Ask us if we would like to bring someone to support us to meetings
- Arrange meeting rooms so that they are as informal and welcoming as possible. A row of professionals can be really scary
- Try to understand our situation if we become upset or angry and make provision for us to have a bit of space/time/privacy. Remember it is because we want the best for our child that we may get emotional! It’s not personal!
- Are kind and understanding of our situation – it takes us many years to come to terms with, and to understand, our child’s learning difficulties and the challenges in their lives
- Understand that our lives change, our child’s needs change and our expectations have to be continually readjusted. Plans have to be reviewed and changed to allow for this
- A cup of tea and a box of hankies would be really, really nice!
The business end of CfE
For Scotland’s Secondary Schools, we’re now reaching the business end of the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence. By this I mean that we’re about to begin the process of implementing the new National Qualifications – I don’t for one second think we’ve yet got anywhere close to actually implementing the curriculum as a whole, that will take some time yet. However, as we reach this difficult moment of significant change there is a natural apprehension which seems to be leading to ever increasing confusion.
Given the current level of coverage of CfE in the press, any Scottish teacher is likely to be asked their thoughts on all of this, and I am no different in this regard. Where I do feel particularly fortunate, is the opportunity I had on an 18 months secondment to have the reasons for this change clearly and repeatedly explained to me through challenging and engaging discussions – if only this opportunity could have been made available to more. As such, I am very much in favour of the changes and more than comfortable with the direction of travel. If you watch the news or read the papers, you would think that I must be completely unique in this regard, I know for a fact I am not, however I would accept that we seem currently to be in the minority. So then, I thought I should try to outline some of my own thoughts on all of this on here…
Why do we need Curriculum for Excellence at all? Why do we need to change?
There’s a strange contradiction around CfE. On the one hand it is often described as “transformational change”, and yet on the other you’ll often hear teachers state “it’s what we do already”. So if it’s not a change, why all the fuss? As far as I’m concerned, little of CfE is new. Everything in the documents was already happening either in pockets of the country, or in pockets of time throughout the country. Or, as in the case of formative assessment, occurring throughout the country most of the time, but superficially.
CfE is about refocusing the entirety of the school curriculum onto a common purpose and striving to take these pockets of good practice and make them universal. It raises the bar and says that the quality of learning and teaching must be improved across the country, at all stages, and at all times. It takes widely accepted pedagogies such as formative assessment and active learning and builds them into Government policy. Sure, there have been flaws in the implementation of this change, but that doesn’t for one second diminish the need for, or the nature of, the change in the first place.
Why do we need to change the National Qualifications?
The Scottish Qualifications had got themselves into a bit of a guddle. We still have the now dated looking Standard Grades sitting alongside a suite of National Qualifications which don’t quite articulate. On top of that, if we’re changing/improving our view of learning, teaching and assessment surely it makes sense to update the Qualifications also? Otherwise, if we were ultimately leading to the same destination as before, the chances of us being able to make the desired changes would be reduced. Again, as always with these things, this could probably have been done better – but I think that the SQA have done a pretty stirling job under the circumstances.
Why should National 4 have no national exam?
This one’s an obvious one to me. One of our current equivalent courses to National 4, Intermediate 1, is very much a skills based course. The unit content is very applied and the whole course could be approached from a “skills for work” type perspective. However, 100% of the grade for the course is determined by a traditional examination paper in a hall, in silence. Whilst this approach to assessment might be appealing to many teachers (who all successfully navigated the academic world and therefore view it favourably), the media (likewise) and many parents (either likewise, or if not, we spend so much time telling them that exams are all that matter that they believe us) but it’s simply not a valid form of assessment for this course.
Now, obviously, any variation from this form of assessment is going to bring issues of reliability – but these need to be dealt with in their own right. We can’t set about solving issues of reliability by making assessments invalid for the forms of learning we’re hoping to achieve. That’s not to say that tests can’t form part of the course assessment, but they do not need to form it all and they do not need to be set nationally. This more local approach to assessment frees up learners and teachers to take a more flexible approach to the learning.
I will finish this one by pointing out that I am (hopefully) about to receive an MEd (SCQF level 11) and I haven’t sat one exam, and all of the assessment has been internal. Even worse, there isn’t even an SQA equivalent to tell the University what they should be assessing! I simply do not understand why we cant take a more valid approach to assessment at SCQF level 4 if we can achieve it at level 11!
Why should schools be changing from 2+2+2 to 3+3?
This one’s particularly contentious just now. The reason 3+3 appeals to me is that it has the potential to allow us to treat our learners as people rather than cohorts. We currently have a situation whereby everyone churns through the two-year middle school in all subjects, which is a legacy of Standard Grade, whether its appropriate for them or not. I would like to reach a point where students are choosing courses at appropriate levels and for appropriate time-periods based on their own needs. I believe that the 3+3 model has a better chance of allowing for this. I’m also in favour of reducing the time we spend jumping through SQA hoops from four years to three in the Secondary school. Whilst the new National Qualifications should be more in line with CfE than the current qualifications, they’re still going to be national examinations for the large part. The more time we’re free to focus on and develop learning for its own sake the better I say. Let’s spend as little time capturing and certifying this learning as possible.
Why has all this proved to be so difficult?
Change is difficult. We’re creatures of habit. Things haven’t been helped by some of the approaches to implementation – but it was always going to be an uphill battle. Everyone was on board when it was just the four capacities, but as soon as it came to having to make real changes to the day-to-day, it became a lot tougher. What’s difficult just now is trying to work out who has the genuinely thought through grievances and who is just shouting no because they don’t like change. I think we should be very careful not to lump these groups together as both are in many ways understandable and predictable.
For many, the problem with the National Qualifications lies with the speed of their implementation. But this only applies if you’re sticking with 2+2+2. For these schools, which have chosen to ignore the national guidance, they are finding themselves in the awkward position of starting these qualifications before they have finished being developed in August of this year. But they knew this when they made their decision regarding the curricular model. For schools moving towards a 3+3 model, they will not begin teaching these qualifications until August 2013 – which is inline with the implementation timeline.
In my own opinion (for what it’s worth), there should be no more delays. I don’t believe the last one achieved anything…we’re creating a curriculum, which while still obviously flawed (they always will be), is an improvement on what has come before. Let’s get on with it for the benefit of our learners
Access qualifications being developed to support Curriculum for Excellence, will be called Nationals.
Following engagement with education stakeholders, including schools, colleges, employers and parents and in the interests of inclusivity and consistency in our National Qualifications, new Access qualifications will be called Nationals. This will take effect from 30 April 2012, when the final documents for the new qualifications are published. These new qualifications will be introduced to schools and colleges in academic session 2013-14.
The change of name to National will simplify the terminology of the National Qualifications system at SCQF levels 1 to 5 and make it easier to understand for learners, their parents and employers. It will also give clear progression from National 1 to National 5 and then onto Higher and Advanced Higher.
Access 1 will become National 1 (SCQF level 1)
Access 2 will become National 2 (SCQF level 2)
Access 3 will become National 3 (SCQF level 3)
Existing Access qualifications, achieved up to August 2013, will continue to be called Access.
Further information about the new qualifications is available for
Parents/Carers – www.sqa.org.uk/cfeforparents
Teachers/Lecturers – www.sqa.org.uk/cfeforteachers
Employers – www.sqa.org.uk/cfeforemployers
Young People – www.sqa.org.uk/cfeforyoungpeople
Article 7.7 Review Inclusion PSA Impact Survey
Recommendations – note outcome of survey and further information on longitudinal impact of staffing allocations will be produced as part of ongoing review of inclusion
Provides a breakdown of how PSA’s are used in Primary and Secondary schools. Information provided by head teachers. Provides a PSA expenditure comparison with comparable Council.
BY PARENTS REPS
This item got a bit heated to say the least. Concern was raised that this was not the report that had been called for. An impact assessment was sought and an impact survey produced. There was a fairly low return rate for the survey.
An amendment was tabled to note the impact survey with concern and to instruct further work involving parents, PSA’s, teachers and SMT’s input by Autumn 2012.
The amendment passed 10/9. We of course voted for the amendment. There was good grace by the administration who accepted the vote and did not refer this to Full Council. A more detailed oral update may be provided to members at the next meeting if required.
BY TONY RAFFERTY
Congratulations to you both for wise voting and ensuring we now get an impact analysis on the effects of PSA reductions. I will start chasing officers to find out how they plan the Parental Involvement. Parents now truly have a voice
New National Qualifications – February 2012 Update
Information for parents and carers
Visit the parents’ page – www.sqa.org.uk/cfeforparents- regularly for the latest information about the new qualifications.
The Mythbuster has answers to the most common questions about the new qualifications – www.sqa.org.uk/mythbuster.