Curriculum for Excellence and the early/Middle Secondary Curriculum in Scotland: Lessons Learned or Forgotten?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The Scottish Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) initiative is representative of many recent international trends in curricular policy. It places great emphasis on the generic skills of its Four Capacities and the pedagogical role of teachers in supporting learners in achieving these. The CfE implementation process also mirrored international trends in emphasizing regulation by outcome, the need for improved school leadership and a suggested growth in the autonomy of teachers. Although CfE suggested that improved learning should be the main focus of the secondary curriculum, this was only enacted through broad guidelines suggesting a period (years S1-3) of broad, general education, followed by a “Senior Phase’ (years S4-6) of study for qualifications. This article draws upon Scottish government, local authority and school statements and publications to examine how the secondary curriculum has been implemented and how the first four years (S1-4) of the Scottish secondary curriculum have evolved or diverged from pre-CfE practice. The article argues that, through ineffectively moderated development (at several governance levels), the S1-4 curricular provision of many Scottish secondary schools has failed to take account of known issues affecting the pre-CfE curriculum of the late 20th century or to fully embody the principles of CfE itself.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018
EventRoyal Society of Edinburgh's Education Committee meeting - Royal Society of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Mar 201812 Mar 2018


OtherRoyal Society of Edinburgh's Education Committee meeting
CountryUnited Kingdom

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