Arghhhh Curriculum for Excellence the new curriculum, junior phase, senior phases, exams, no exams, broad general education, all new, not new at all, questions questions questions. These are the thoughts that are permeating the mind of teachers throughout Scotland both experienced and those of us who are brand new into the profession. Without the surety of our own experiences to draw on and the constant flood of jargon streaming from the SQA in an attempt to reassure us or frighten us – it is a tense time as the Scottish curriculum plunges in to the new national qualifications in the senior school.
In a change from the previous system of the Standard Grades the new National 4 and 5 courses are done in one year. Therefore pupils undertake a broad general education (BGE) for 3 years rather than two. The difficultly now facing the profession, and obviously I include myself in this, is how to link the BGE and national phases. This seems straight forward enough – surely there should be natural progression in subject and skills? Although this seems obvious it is not always so as not all pupils will be taking your subject (excepting Maths and English) and it is hard to keep all pupils engaged when it is clear that not all of them want to be there especially in S3. However it is still important that the pupils who will be continuing with the subject are prepared for their National courses in S4. Dilemma, Dilemma!
At the moment I am composing a list of the skills, knowledge and types of questioning that pupils should be familiar with as they embark on their National courses at the beginning of S4 – I am basing this on the start of National 5 level which is ambitious, I know, but a good aim. Obviously it is different for each subject but I think this is an essential task in bridging the gap between the junior and senior phases of Curriculum for Excellence which are above all not distinct entities but a continuation.
If we don’t know where we are going how can we plan the route?