Curriculum for excellence

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Councillors last week agreed to endorse a report updating them on the implementation of the senior phase of the Curriculum for Excellence in Aberdeenshire.

The update was agreed following a lengthy discussion by councillors about how the new system would work in Aberdeenshire, and of concerns raised by some parents.

The senior phase of the new national curriculum is in the process of being implemented across the area, following guidelines agreed by the Education, Learning and Leisure Committee in June this year.

For young people in secondary schools across Scotland, the Curriculum for Excellence structure will see them study a wide range of subjects to provide a broad general education until the end of S3, at which point they will move into the senior phase.

Standard Grade qualifications which used to be studied over S3 and S4 will not exist after the academic session 2012/13 but will be replaced by National Qualifications which can be studied at any time during S4–S6, alongside Highers and Advanced Highers.

The senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence will begin in academic session

2013/14 and will affect all S4 pupils across Scotland.

The matter was discussed at last Thursday’s meeting of the Education, Learning & Leisure Committee at Woodhill House in Aberdeen. A senior representative from national body Education Scotland is to be invited to attend the committee in February to clarify the guidance issued to local authorities.

Councillors also agreed to the formation of a working group consisting of parents, teachers, council officers and other representatives as appropriate, to review what is happening in each school and support them in moving forward with implementation.

Recommendations to request seminars for parents with Education Scotland and pair up head teachers who are already advanced in the implementation to share experiences with those in transitional stages were also agreed.

In answer to calls for clarification about the number of new National 5 qualifications pupils will be able to sit in S4, it was stated unequivocally by the service that the flexibility exists for individual pupils to study more than six subjects, although that figure will likely be the norm for the majority of pupils.

The committee also sought reassurance from officers on the issue of university entrance requirements and were told that all Scottish universities are reviewing this process.

Speaking after the meeting, Chair of the Education, Learning and Leisure Committee, Councillor Isobel Davidson, said: “Members discussed the implementation of the senior phase in depth at today’s meeting, the outcome of which I hope addressed and clarified a number of points which have been raised in relation to the Curriculum for Excellence.

“The council is committed to providing our young people with the best education we can and I feel that today’s discussion reaffirmed that we are doing everything reasonable to ensure we get it right for every child.”