*Excellence not Guaranteed!

Excellence; the fact or state of excelling; superiority; being exceptionally good. So does Curriculum for Excellence mean we have to build an excellent curriculum, then deliver an excellent curriculum and create excellence? This is what I find most daunting about CfE. Just by its title it doesn’t feel achievable and I don’t feel worthy enough to build, deliver or create it, and I know lot’s of others who feel the same. Last term, when discussing CfE in the staffroom, it was jokingly suggested that our school motto should be *Excellence not Guaranteed. I find it sad that one word can make good teachers feel they have to put a disclaimer under their teaching. So I say ignore the title and ignore the phrases; excellence groups, sharing best practice and building your curriculum that make us feel inadequate and focus on the fantastic learning and teaching that we are all capable of.

The ten point implementation plan was supposed to enhance teachers’ confidence in CfE, but I’m not sure these statements would make me feel better; “drawing on experience of teachers from neighbouring schools who have already fully prepared for the new curriculum” translates to ‘this is how you should have prepared’ and “excellence groups” translates to ‘if you are deemed good enough we would like your input’. I agree that the best way to move forward is to get out and about and see how other’s put things into practice but the focus put on this has maybe been more of leading by example rather than networking and building together.

The focus needs to be on sharing and realising that we are in charge of our own classrooms and if our children are happy, engaged and learning, and we are experimenting with different techniques and trying to make learning relevant, deep and enjoyable then we have our own perfect mix of non guaranteed excellence!

Collegiality is going to be one of the most important ways of building each others confidence and moving CfE forward. We need to talk, share, moan and develop together in safe and nurturing places, whether physical places or virtual places, such as here or twitter. The best thing we did at school recently was go out for coffee. At 3.15 on the last Tuesday of the month we ditch the folders, schoolbags and USB drives with our lives on them and just go drink coffee, eat cake and chat. It was great to do and reminded you that the best discussions, developments and ideas come in the least stressful environments! We need to work together in the way we ask the children to, we need to put our hands up if we are stuck and praise ourselves and others for the fantastic work we do! So leave a positive comment, go out for a coffee, introduce someone to twitter, compliment someone and feel good about yourself!

*Apologies for the very happy shiny circle time feel to this post but we need some positivity sometimes!

4 thoughts on “*Excellence not Guaranteed!

  1. Colm Linnane

    Great reflections Kirsty, think the issue of Collegiality is a major one in terms of getting the message out there and showing that CfE and CPD is a dynamic, social process as much as acquiring knowledge.

  2. Juliet Robertson

    I wonder if this is all because we’ve been conditioned by our own past education which generally has adopted a “fixed mindset” approach?

    The first grade I ever got given was a B+, aged 11. It’s stuck with me every since and when I’m in a “fixed mindset frame” I feel that is my performance level. The fact that I’ve since had every grade ranging from D to A+ is neither here nor there.

    So yes, the term “excellence” does probably strike fear and terror into many teacher’s hearts. Possibly an inadvertent cruise missile effect!

    However in line with Steven Covey and his ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People” I think it’s important to remember we are response-able and have the choice to feel this way…or not.

    So what’s the alternative to excellence is my next thought. Mediocrity? Hmm. I very much hope we never rate our education system as being very good for the mediocre. We’re all so much better than this. Aren’t we?

  3. Karen Doherty

    Perhaps we should swap Excellence for Confidence? By definition, not everyone can be excellent. If everyone excels then that surely becomes the norm? (Anything else is illogical and as you say, implicitly divisive.) We don’t want Curriculum for The Norm, well I don’t anyway.
    Whereas, if we have a curriculum which develops/inspires/creates confidence it means pupils (and staff)can face an unknown future and all its unknown demands with less trepidation.
    CfE, as a title, has never really made sense to me. We have enough acronyms as it is. I like the Tuesday informal sessions you describe, we do something similar after parent interviews and occasional Fridays. If we must have an acronym let it be CfC = Curriculum for Chat or Curriculum for Cake. I’m confident that would be met with more enthusiasm. 😉

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