CfE and Benchmarks: Education Scotland Statement

Created on: 24 Jan 2018 | Last modified: 03 Aug 2023


In August 2016, in recognition of the excessive workload and bureaucracy associated with the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence, the burdensome amount of support material and guidance, and the reported need for greater clarity around achievement of CfE levels, the Chief Inspector of Education published a statement on CfE (Curriculum for Excellence: A Statement for Practitioners from HM Chief Inspector of Education) accompanied by Benchmarks for Literacy and English, and Numeracy.

This correspondence was coupled with a letter to all teachers from the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills who expressed determination to tackle 'workload, confusion and duplication'.

The EIS welcomes the key messages within the statement which strongly echo the recommendations of the Tackling Bureaucracy reports, and which give clear direction to teachers that excessive paperwork and electronic form- filling that lead to unproductive workload are not acceptable and, indeed, should be challenged.

This advice note is intended to support EIS members to act collectively in applying the key messages from the most recent Education Scotland statement within their establishments, in order that what has previously been little  ore than rhetoric becomes a reality, and excessive workload associated with planning, teaching and assessment is genuinely reduced.

Planning Learning, Teaching and Assessment Using the Experiences and Outcomes: Key messages

The EIS welcomes the emphasis on curriculum de-cluttering within this section of the statement. While many of the initiatives that have found their way into the curriculum in recent years are well-intentioned, for example 1+2 Modern Languages and STEM, they have generated additional work for teachers and placed additional strain on an already overcrowded curriculum.

With regards to planning processes, it is the view of the EIS that those which are multi-levelled- strategic, monthly and daily- are hugely demanding of time, do not support the delivery of high quality learning and teaching, and are not based on professional trust. Neither are they required by Education Scotland for inspection purposes.

Education Scotland advice is that teachers should not and should not be asked to:

• Write rigid, overly lengthy and detailed forward plans
• Plan coverage of every Experience and Outcome
• Spend large amounts of time completing daily/ weekly plans and evaluations
• Deliver too many learning activities within a given time period
• Deliver Interdisciplinary Learning activities which do not allow for genuine depth and application of learning

The statement goes so far as to say:
‘All planning must focus directly on enhancing the learner journey. When asked to complete paperwork which does not directly relate to improving
the learner journey, challenge this with your colleagues.’ The Cabinet Secretary’s letter echoes this. ‘I hope it (the statement) will help you to make judgments about what needs to be done and what does not. It is perhaps best summed up by the comments of one teacher to me: “Don’t do anything unless it is relevant to the learner’s journey”.’

Advice for EIS School Reps and Members

The EIS agrees that overly-bureaucratic practice should be challenged and encourages EIS members to do this collectively. With this is mind, it is advisable for EIS members to consider and discuss at Branch meetings, the extent to which planning processes in their establishments are in line with Education Scotland direction, taking account of the good practice in relation to planning outlined in the statement and echoing the Tackling Bureaucracy Reports. Planning should be proportionate, include the level of detail that will best support pupil learning and professional dialogue, and should be realistic in terms of the number of learning activities. Daily plans should be viewed as working notes, mainly for the use of class teachers. Where members in a school are being asked to do any of things listed as unacceptable by Education Scotland with regards to planning, the matter should be raised by the EIS School Representative on behalf of members with the Headteacher with the aim of reaching satisfactory agreement.

Members are reminded that all aspects of planning should:

• be accounted for within the school’s Working Time Agreement
• be designed and agreed on a collegiate basis (as indicated in the statement)
• be consistent with any LNCT agreements/ policies on planning (copies ofthese can obtained from Local Association Secretaries)
• strongly incorporate professional dialogue (with time made available for this)
• directly relate to enhancing the learning experience (as indicated in the statement).

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