Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence

Into the Future

image of Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence

Students in Scotland (United Kingdom) engage in learning through Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), which aims to provide them with a holistic, coherent, and future-oriented approach to learning between the ages of 3 and 18. CfE offers an inspiring and widely supported philosophy of education. Schools design their own curriculum based on a common framework which allows for effective curricular practices. In 2020, Scotland invited the OECD to assess the implementation of CfE in primary and secondary schools to understand how school curricula have been designed and implemented in recent years. This report analyses the progress made with CfE since 2015, building upon several months of observations in Scotland, the existing literature and experiences from other OECD countries. The OECD analysis and recommendations aim to support Scotland as it further enhances CfE to achieve its potential for the present and future of its learners. Just as Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence was among the pioneers of 21st century learning, its most recent developments hold valuable lessons for other education systems and their own curriculum policies.


Towards a coherent policy environment for Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence

This chapter analyses how the current policy environment in Scotland (United Kingdom) supports or hinders the implementation of its Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). Central to CfE’s aspirations is teachers’ capacity to be curriculum designers, and school leaders’ ability to lead the curriculum process in schools. There has been significant progress in supporting this capacity, but this work has become more challenging for schools, given the need to respond to multiple new initiatives at local and national levels. This chapter explores the misalignment between CfE’s aspirations and the system of qualifications, the need to get policies in place that deliver the right balance between curriculum autonomy and equity for students, and a need to align and perhaps simplify the many frameworks and strategies in the busy policy landscape. It concludes with recommendations that may pave the way to a more proactive and coherent policy environment.


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