The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) has been hailed as a revolution in Scottish education.
It is inevitable with such a sea-change in teaching and courses that, as the new system moves towards the first major examinations for secondary school pupils, the concerns of teachers increase. With the National 4 and 5 Qualifications due to replace Standard Grade and Intermediate exams from the 2013-14 school year, teachers throughout the country had expressed unease that they were not sufficiently prepared to implement the new curriculum.
The extent of the problem became clear in March, when only 3% of teachers declared themselves fully confident of implementing the new system and three-quarters said they felt under-prepared. When East Renfrewshire Council, the education authority which tops the exam league tables, and a number of private schools decided to delay introducing the National exams by a year, it seemed other authorities might follow suit, resulting in a piecemeal approach throughout the country.
Much hope was therefore pinned on the "deep audit" into schools' state of preparedness for the new exams by Education Scotland, with the teaching unions expecting particular schools or subject areas where teachers needed additional support to be identified.
Its conclusion yesterday that implementation of the new NQs and full delivery of CfE continues to be achievable within the currently agreed national timescale brought accusations that the process was flawed from both the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, which first raised the alarm following a survey of members, and the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), which has been largely supportive of the introduction of CfE.
Their chief criticism is that the views of classroom teachers were not taken into account because directors of education consulted only headteachers or groups of principal teachers before making their reports. If that is the case, the teaching unions are right to criticise the audit as shallow. The National exams will be the first test of the new curriculum. If teachers feel they are not sufficiently prepared to implement them, pupils, parents and prospective employers cannot be expected to have confidence in the system.
The concerns of the teaching unions must be taken seriously. Recognising that many of their members did not have sufficient materials to teach the new courses, the EIS agreed a £3.5 million package of extra support. However, identifying where help is needed was a key part of the national audit.
There is understandable scepticism among teachers that the audit has been carried out by the body which will oversee its implementation. It is also the case that it is in the interest of Education Scotland to ensure support is provided most effectively. The claim that individual teachers are being censured for saying they need more preparation suggests a blame culture that could undermine the entire project. Headteachers and local authorities must ensure that all teachers in all schools are able to deliver the new courses effectively. The future of today's pupils depends on it.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.