Author Archives: evedickson

CfE: a student’s perspective

“A student’s experience of the curriculum for excellence: friend or foe? Discuss…”

In order to adequately answer this question, I rallied up an army of exhausted yet enthusiastic fourth year students and probationers to answer me one question:

How do you feel about the Curriculum for Excellence?

No restrictions were placed upon the survey, no limitations or specification was given within the question; just an open canvas available for praise or reproach at will.

Soon into the two week time period, themes began to manifest themselves within the views of the group – as shown in the tagxedo above – and it is those themes that form the undertones of this article.

“We like the Curriculum for Excellence, but… “

Generally, all we know is the Curriculum for Excellence. Unlike some who may feel like square products of a 5-14 curriculum being pushed through a round hole, we have no comparison.  We enter schools full of E’s O’s and singing the 4 capacities from the roof tops, but many feel they are met with disgruntled sighs. It was felt that many schools could still be running their 5-14 curriculum with a mere “CfE” sticker stuck on top and equally many teachers could have already been running a “CfE” compliant classroom for the past ten years. Is the Curriculum for Excellence just a facade or is it making a real difference inside classrooms, on the front line?

Many felt that possibilities and opportunities open to a teacher were vastly more accessible under the new curriculum – “the Curriculum for Excellence rewards innovators– and experimentation and creativity within the classroom was met with praise rather than scepticism; as one student commented when I utter the words ‘I would like to take the class outside for this lesson’ I am no longer greeted by shock or derision”.

The flexibility offered with the new curriculum also resounded as a huge positive, alongside cross curricular benefits and the encouragement of ‘pupil-led’ learning styles. Many also felt the curriculum allowed them to further meet the needs of individual learners within their classrooms and supported the ‘real-word’ emphasis encouraged within the curriculum.

Support and enthusiasm was clearly shown for the Curriculum for Excellence; however most appreciate that there is still a way to go and improvements to be made. Interestingly, these comments also followed a common trend and I have taken the liberty of summing up these views for you:

Excusing the tongue in cheek, this – I felt – was an interesting representation of the themes that appeared during the short survey.

Uncertainty appears to surround the Curriculum for Excellence – many students, probationers and experienced teachers alike have expressed concerns alongside their praises – and all these concerns seem to fall into categories mentioned above.

There is no doubt that The Curriculum for Excellence has clear positive attributes and many have experienced a considerable ‘positive overhaul of classroom teaching’ since its introduction. From a personal viewpoint, I support the changes the Curriculum for Excellence intends for the Scottish education system – and although perhaps it isn’t perfect just yet – if we were able to successfully achieve, recognise and fulfil the genuine potential behind the new Curriculum, we could once again become ‘one to watch’ within international education. We are not there yet, but it’s one step in the right direction.

“Curriculum for Excellence is handing back power to classroom teachers, let’s use it before they take it off us again.”


Many thanks to all the Moray House students and post graduates for their time and efforts within this survey, much appreciated. Particular shout outs to: Shona Tait, Fiona Jenkins, Leith Whale, Ellen Henretty, Barry Fraser, Charles Thornton, Suzie Kerr and Anita Ann LeTissier.

(FYI – Tagxedos creatable here:

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