Published as an interview, The Scotsman, 8th March, 2012
Quoted in Parliament, Cabinet Secretary for Education, 8th March, 2012
I am becoming increasingly concerned by the politicisation of educational debate in Scotland. The only effect such a situation creates is uncertainty for Scotland’s children and their parents and that is unacceptable. That is why today I am nailing my colours to the mast of Curriculum for Excellence, on the timetable set out by the Board responsible. It is no longer tolerable for education in Scotland to be left in a state of flux even though there is quite understandable frustration and angst within the teaching profession. However, the time has come to stop prevaricating and instead to be getting on with the business in hand. A further delay in CfE’s introduction serves no useful purpose but simply cements the current uncertainties and worries and does nothing to improve Secondary Education in Scotland.
There is justifiable concern that we still have no idea what the examinations will actually look like but the SQA have clearly indicated they will be ready. Our job as educators is to teach the courses as currently outlined and at the end of the teaching period, pupils will ‘sit the test’. It is up to the SQA to ensure the test is a fair one and that it is delivered on time. As far as I am concerned, Clifton Hall’s students will be fully prepared to sit their National 5s in two years time in 8 subjects over 2 years – S3 to S4 – rather than the much criticised 5 subjects in 1 year – in S4 only. It is up to the Scottish Government, Education Scotland and the SQA to ensure that they do not let these pupils down.
Curriculum for Excellence has an entirely laudable set of aims and does, in my opinion, provide the refreshingly non-prescriptive methodology, philosophy and content that fits a 21st Century world. I am convinced it provides Scotland’s pupils with a series of opportunities rather than threats and I fully stand behind its underlying principles. The time for talking is over; Scotland’s pupils and their parents deserve nothing less.