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

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    This paper analyses the changing shape of the Scottish secondary curriculum, resulting from national, local authority and school interpretation and implementation of the national Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) initiative of 2003 and its associated documentation. The paper also considers the impact of CfE and the associated ‘new’ National Qualifications (nNQs), introduced from 2013-2014, on attainment in Scottish secondary schools, seeking to answer the question:
    “Have the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence initiative from 2010 and the availability of linked “new” National Qualifications impacted on curricular structures, subject enrolments and/or attainment in Scottish secondary schools?”
    The findings of the paper include evidence of extensive fragmentation of the S1-3 curriculum across a significant proportion of Scottish secondary schools, narrowing or severe narrowing of the S4 curriculum in a majority of Scottish secondary schools, a highly significant and continuing trend of decline in overall attainment at SCQF levels 3-5 since 2013, a smaller decline at SCQF level 6 (Higher), issues related to the ‘passability’ of SCQF level 5 courses, subject areas where the curricular presence has significantly to very significantly declined since 2013 and an apparent failure of the part of many Scottish schools to provide parents and pupils with the necessary information to allow them to decide which school would be most beneficial for enrolment by individual learners.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMeeting Papers of the Education and Skills Committee
    Place of PublicationEdinburgh
    PublisherScottish Government
    Number of pages36
    Volume22nd Meeting, Wednesday 19 September 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2018


    • Curriculum
    • Attainment
    • Governance


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