Leave the delays to Scotrail… #CfEontrack

My S1 Enterprise class is becoming the highlight of my week.  The class comes for a double period of study (one of the changes we brought in as a result of Curriculum for Excellence) and they leave exhausted (them and me!).

I used to see first year for a single period of ICT.  Using the 5-14 guidelines pupils learned how to edit text and sort data.  They worked at computers on their own.  If they were stuck they put their hand up and I told them what to click on.  The room was generally quiet and the pupils were engaged.  Talking was frowned upon and the learning was rote.

I have a confession to make.  We stopped using the 5-14 guidelines a few years ago. Before CfE (there, I said it!).  We gradually made the switch when we realised that we needed to teach young people more than the menu commands in Microsoft Word.  It was refreshing to see that the driving force behind Curriculum for Excellence was “to help every learner develop knowledge, skills and attributes for learning, life and work, which are encapsulated in the four capacities”.  We were onto a winner, vindicated that we had been doing the best for our young people for the previous few sessions.

This ‘new’ style of teaching is hard work.  Enter my CfE classroom on a Tuesday morning and you will see chaos.  There are groups of young people everywhere.  Some are working at a PC, others are planning on the board, some are even holding a meeting with their peers outside the classroom in our flexible learning area.  I’m not always in control and setting the direction of travel.  Pupils have carousel mindmaps scattered over the desks, they are checking each others work, discussing (sometimes arguing!) over who is doing what.  Two of my S1′s stand at the front and ask for silence!  They are the editors of the magazine the class are producing (on the topic of Sexting) and they are not quite sure at what stage everyone is at.  They inform the class that they will shortly be coming round to check who is doing what.  If someone needs help they suggest who they should pair up with.  I sit back and hope they will meet their self imposed draft 1 deadline (they did!).

We hope to have the magazine finished next week.  They have all uploaded their work to their Glow group for peer assessment:

They have kept me updated with their progress in the forum every week:

They are learning new skills all of the time.  They are used to me pointing a camera at them.  They are used to me challenging them.  They have chosen the tasks to complete.  They have demonstrated team work, meeting deadlines, using new software, encouraging others, compromise.  And more.  Their fellow pupils in S2 are doing the same.  They are getting used to the new way of being assessed.  I am getting used to the new way of assessing!  We are learning together, using topics, skills and experiences which we enjoy.  They will continue to enjoy learning as they progress through the school.

If we give them appropriate opportunities to develop at level 3 and 4, then appropriate courses which continue into National 4′s and 5′s, who cares what the exams look like.

We signed up to the experiences and outcomes.  Nobody is arguing that Curriculum for Excellence is not the correct approach.  Nobody is saying that we needed more time to develop courses in S1-S3, but mention qualifications as some colleagues wobble.  Right across Scotland, schools are delivering on the experiences and outcomes.  The draft Nationals (1-5) show the clear progression from the experience and outcome levels.  Internal assessment will be driven to meet the needs of our young people.  This is our opportunity to put learning first.  The exams have driven the learning for too long.  That is why I believe we need to leave the delays to Scotrail, and get on with delivering the track we all set out on together.

Original headline: Leave the delays to Scotrail (If TESS can do it! ;-) )