Document 1382

Lecture: A Curriculum for Excellence: latest developments and implications for the teaching of languages in Scotland

Author(s): N/A

Copyright holder(s): SCOTS Project

Audio transcription

M721 So, well, can I begin by thanking you for inviting me to talk to the group, about the position of Modern Languages. As John mentioned, my name's Brian Templeton and I work here at the University in the Faculty of Education. Eh, my background is Modern Languages; I was a Principal Teacher of French and German, and my main work now is in inital teacher education, preparing secondary teachers. I also work for the Scottish Qualifications Authority, ehm where I am principal assessor for French at the moment, and therefore oversee the production of the exams at Higher and at Intermediate One and Two levels. And most recently I've also been er the chair of the language review group in A Curriculum for Excellence. And it's really that latter experience that I want to share with you today.

When John first mentioned about talking to the group and about the position of Modern Languages, I think my initial thought was that I would probably talk about the current position of Modern Languages, and how we got there. And as you'll know from the press that when Modern Languages appear there, it's usually in dramatic headlines of how terrible we are at learning them, how the numbers are falling and how everyone's opting out of them, and of course there's an element of truth in that but it's never quite the whole picture. But it's fairly clear that there are a lot of things in Modern Languages teaching that aren't perfect or as good as we would like at the moment. And from Graeme's introduction there, it's obviously, as I know from Jim McGonigal, it's the same regarding English language, and the position of all languages. So what I'll be doing with Curriculum for Excellence is trying to highlight that I think this really is an opportunity to make a case for the sort of development and changes we would like to see in language, and by language teaching I mean language across all the language teaching areas. So that's the thrust of what I'm going to do to- to talk about today. Erm, can I just, yeah, just do that?

So, in the talk I'm going to do, I've I'm really just going to start by giving you a brief update on A Curriculum for Excellence, I'm sorry I don't have a nice acronym like CLASS. [audience laugh] We had ACE but they've now put the F in the middle so it doesn't come out very well as ACfE or anything, so I'll just talk about Curriculum for excellence. So I'll say a little bit about the background just in case, and highlight the key points there that we've been trying to address. I'll say a little bit about the language curriculum review group, how it was set up and what our main discussions so far have been, and then I'll focus in mainly on the three phases of the programme, the whole development programme, which has been broken up notionally into three phases; the one that we're currently in at the moment is phase one. It's still ongoing. We're looking at three to fifteen first. We're trying to declutter the curriculum. And coming out of that will be three, three products. There will be a framework, which replaces the five to fourteen framework and which tracks attainment, and learning experiences. There will be a rationale, for the changes and the direction that we want language, lang- modern languages or, and all languages to move, and there will also be our initial thoughts on how phases two and three should be taken forward, and I'll say a little bit about all three of those areas as I go through the talk. And as I say, what I'd like to come out of it is something that lets you see the position Modern Languages is in, but more importantly the direction I think it's moving in, because I think really that's the purpose, rather than look back at how we've got to where we've got to, I think Curriculum for Excellence gives us a chance to look forward, and see the directions we'd like to move in. So I'll be focusing on that. In doing that I'll hopefully highlight the position of Modern Languages, and the way I would like it to move, but at the same time I hope you'll see opportunities for taking forward your own areas of interest in language as well, and hopefully from, certainly from what Graeme's said, I think there's a lot of, what he was talking about there that would fit very nicely into this programme.

Okay? So if I could start with just the background to A Curriculum for Excellence. Erm, and the whole review of the curriculum came out of the national debate, which at the turn of the century the Scottish Executive set up to consult on the future direction of Scottish education, and I've highlighted out of that four of the sort of key points that came out of that big consultation exercise, which are particularly important to A Curriculum for Excellence. And the first was to deal with the overcrowding of the curriculum, the feeling that an increasing number of Highers and s- qualifications have come in to the upper secondary, the primary curriculum has now got lots of what used to be secondary areas going in there and the feeling is that there needs to be a look at thinning out and trying to identify what's really essential at the different stages. Linked to that is the fact I think that we're looking at vocational and academic qualifications, but above all we're trying to prepare pupils for life in the twenty-first century. And therefore the emphasis is very much on language learning skills, being aware of how you learn effectively, so that you can adapt that learning to different subject areas throughout your career. And the other aspect of that is that the learning experiences should be as important as the outcomes, so rather than the assessment driving the the teaching, the two should be linked and they should support one another.

And very much I think the message I take out of the Curriculum for Excellence approach, or what they're trying to achieve, is a modernisation agenda. Peter Peacock described it as the the largest, most radical, modernisation in recent times, or in a generation. And I think that's the key thing; it's modernisation of the curriculum so they'll start by looking at what's currently there, but saying "is that still appropriate as we move into the twenty-first century?" So it's very much trying to, and it's a totally radical look, it's a look at everything we do from three to eighteen. So it's a fundamental review, starting from where we are, but looking at what would be the best, most progressive, coherent curriculum for our pupils from three to eighteen, and obviously those are the principles that will be, should be built into the curriculum, ehm but as I say, the top and the bottom bullet points I think are the key ones. It is a single coherent framework they're looking at and it has to be relevant to life in the twenty-first century.

The purpose of this review of the curriculum is to help our pupils, students become eh more able citizens, reflective, responsible citizens, is to develop those four capacities. These are the four key capacities that are always referred to in A Curriculum for Excellence. And they're the purposes of the curriculum review. They're v- they're going to be very important because we're looking to enable young people of the future to be all of those four things. Successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens. And it's very important that we look carefully at those because th- all subject areas, their contribution to creating those four erm capacities will determine their role in the curriculum. So all areas of the curriculum will be assessed against the contribution they make to developing those four capacities.

Now obviously language [doorbell rings] is a crucial element in all four. It's absolutely essential for people to be successful learners to access the curriculum and to be confident, effective contributors. The one in Modern Languages that we also want to highlight is the responsible citizens aspect, cause under there they're looking at awareness of cultures, other cultures, and of course there's a role there of being aware of our own culture, in Gaelic and Scots, but I think in Modern Languages we'll also be trying to make the case that we've got a unique role to play in developing international citizens. And therefore we will certainly be trying to link our subject to those four areas, er very clearly.

So sort of narrowing it down from the great big picture to where we are. The programme board that was set up to take forward the c- curriculum review then established eight review groups. So they broke the curriculum into four, into eight areas, ehm our one was language and they set up one language review group. You'll see it's a very small group; those are the ke-, well the people who are on it, eh with the HMI, of course, there's a lead HMI person, Frances Corcoran who's been involved with us. But essentially that's the group, and I've put it up there to highlight the fact that it's a very small group. And that was so that we could do a quick review of the existing guidelines, and come up with some recommendations which, as I say, is is the direction in which we think we should be moving. And because it's a small group, it's absolutely essential that at the next stage we do have as wide consultation as possible on this because these are the views of that group. But the next phase has to be that we have to get establish agreement as to where should we be moving, i- in the next stage. But you'll see from that that although it's a small group, there's a range of interests there and a range of languages. You'll see Learning and Teaching Scotland at the bottom there, Margo Williamson with an experience in primary and literacy, erm, pre-five, Bridget Loney from Scottish Qualifications Authority is representing Classics, in the group, Joan Essen is a PT Secondary, fo- for erm looking at Gaelic, both Gaelic-medium and Gaelic for learners, secondary background, Sheena Dawe from a local authority perspective; again a specialist in pre-five and primary, Pat Robson, Principal Teacher of English, and myself, representing modern European languages in my role there, so it's a a range of group- a range of interests and a range of experiences, erm and a range of of of the key players in terms of curriculum development in Scotland in the in the school sector.

And of course the first we've h- obviously had a few meetings in the time we were set up. [audience member apologises for late arrival] Hello. And er that the group just was formed, or at least we got letters inviting us to be on it in er in the middle of April, and the group started to meet fairly soon after that into May. So we've worked fairly, you know, we've had a quite a few meetings and moved things on. But our first discussion was, why was one language group set up, and should we continue as one language group? That's been the discussion within all of the groups, the curricular groups that were there. Do we, how far do we stay as a language group, or how far do we splinter into looking at our own particular interests. And very early on, we took the decision that we wanted to develop an integrated approach, an inclusive approach to languages, and to language learning in general, and that we wanted to highlight the centrality of language in a pupil's education; how essential it is for them, and at the same time the interconnected nature of whatever languages they then go on to learn, and to try and make sure that that becomes the focus of language, and that language is looked on as a continuum, language learning; they start with their own home language, or native language or languages and then they pick up another language as a natural progression, and when they look at a second language it's a chance for us to revisit what do they know about the first language, how does that help them as they move into the second language, and how do the two interconnect and help pupils understand how they become more effective learners of language, whether it's a f- modern European language erm or a home language. And we've tried to come up with a framework which tries to use similar terminology and which focuses on language learning skills that are common to English language, Gaelic and modern European languages.

So that's the thrust of what we're trying to do. Obviously, as we have met and developed, there are certain key issues in Modern Languages that we have to address, the fact that they're obviously going to pick this up much later in their primary curriculum, and that they don't have the time to just build it up because they're not exposed to it the way they are to their home language. We need to look at strategies that accelerate their learning, and that build on what they're bringing to it when they start their second language. So, phase one, which, their first target was, it's characterised by the word "decluttering", which basically means streamlining the existing guidelines. So the first thing we had to do was to look at the guidelines that are currently in place, three to five curriculum, three to five guidelines, five to fourteen, Standard Grade, Interme-, Access Three, Intermediate One, Intermediate Two. Now we're not trying to rewrite those, we're basically trying to say, can these be repackaged in a clearer, more concise way, that gives a sufficient detail to teachers but are al- but also are accessible to pupils, to parents, and to teachers of other subject areas. Particularly when we move into the secondary curriculum, part of the problem there I think is trying to understand sometimes what your own guidelines in Modern Languages tell you, never mind what they say in English, what they say in social subjects, but if we can declutter and reduce these frameworks to something more manageable, then there's a greater chance that everyone understands what other areas are working at. And I think that could be an advantage certainly for English language where all areas have to erm be aware of what's happening in terms of the pupils' learning experiences and developments.

So, one of the key products will be a framework which hi- highlights at different stages the key outcomes that we would expect pupils to achieve, most pupils to achieve. Currently, the five stages, cause we-, at the moment as I say we are looking at three to fifteen, then the five stages when some sort of reporting, assessment would happen, are currently those. And I'm sorry I haven't given you the handouts before we started here, but ehm as I say you'll get them all at the end. Ehm and you'll see that currently they're looking to be er a level at the end of P1, a level at the end of P4, a level at the end of P7, one possibly at the end of S1, and level five at the end of S3. So the five levels will spread from P1 to S3. So the earliest that a pupil would be assessed against a level would be at the end of P1. The latest would be S3. Whether the ones in between remain like that is still being discussed, but that's certainly what we were working on initially.

So, the first product from phase one will be a framework, which tracks attainment. A framework for assessment which tracks attainment and which tracks a pupil's progress in a subject area from where they start to the end of S3, which is at the moment that first end point. [inhale] The languages, the the English and Ga- so we've been working really on two two frameworks to begin with, or at least one framework but with different starting and end points. English and Gaelic medium obviously tracks attainment, and learning experiences from the age of three to fifteen. So the framework we've been working on for those areas goes from three to fifteen where they start their formal learning to age fifteen. Languages other than English, so here's another acronym for you, LOTE, Languages other than English is what we are calling the others in the group, and that currently means modern European languages, Gaelic for er learners, and classics. But obviously this can be extended at a later stage to community languages and to other areas, but at the moment that's the grouping. And what we're looking at in the languages other than English framework is a notional start at P6 through to S3. So the framework that we're working on at the moment is assuming a P6 start through to S3. So we're looking at trying to track attainment beginning in P6 through to S3, and trying to say "what are the key learning outcomes that pupils should be able to demonstrate in a European language that they've started at those different levels?" So we're trying to get a coherent progressive ehm framework that tracks their attainment from P6 to S3.

That's not to preclude areas where a modern European language are already started earlier than P6, if circumstances allow, but for a planning purpose we're looking at the national norm of being P6 to S3, and trying to say "what would be the most useful, meaningful, coherent and enjoyable learning experience for our pupils from P6 to S3?" And that's an area which we know at the moment isn't working well in modern European languages and it's an area we really do need to address this time, and-. What will be common to both the frameworks, because obviously th- we will want them to link together, is that they'll be expressed in "I can do" statements. So for example "I can deliver a short presentation about myself in French with limited support". So they'll be "I can do" statements. So that it links in to Assessment is for Learning which has been a big initiative in primary and in secondary, looking at ensuring the pupils understand the clear objectives they're working towards, work through meaningful activities leading to those er outcomes, and get feedback, constructive, formative feedback from the teacher, and increasingly from themselves and peers, so that they become better at understanding how they evaluate their own progress, and then finally evaluating what they've achieved, what they've produced and saying what they did well, what they need to improve and what they'll work towards.

So it's often described as plan, show, evaluate, identify the outcomes, go through and produce the activities and then evaluate how well they went. So you'll see that it's very much on becoming more effective learners, the thrust of what I understand Curriculum for Excellence to be about. It's "how do I become a more effective learner?" so therefore they need to be aware of how they're being assessed, what contributes success, er what criteria are used to judge their success.

And very importantly, it's not just about outcomes. And we've had a great debate within our group as to whether there should be one or two frameworks. There will certainly be one that tracks attainment. The assessment outcomes and tracking attainment. And built in to that will also be an indication of the learning experiences that they should go through, in order to achieve these outcomes. So it's not just get those outcomes at all costs, never mind how you get there; the focus is on meaningful learning experiences that are relevant to them, in relation to those four capacities and in relation to life in the twenty-first century. So the learning contexts and the experiences should determine the outcomes and are clearly linked to that.

My own preference in Modern Languages at the moment is that we we we firstly created outcomes and then we had a separate framework for ehm the learning experiences, because we wanted to clarify for teachers "here are the the realistic important outcomes, language tasks we want pupils to be able to perform, and here are the experiences that would be relevant to them in the twenty-first century, which would be enjoyable, meaningful, which would involve new methodologies". And we thought that the two separate was nice and clear, but the indications were at certain points, and they kept changing, that we needed to produce one framework, and therefore we've tried to build the learning experiences into our descriptors of the outcomes. And there's still a debate ongoing as to which form we will pass up the line when we've complete phase one; whether we go with two separate frameworks or one which tries to integrate the two. But there will be, you know, learn- an emphasis on learning experiences in context as well as the outcomes.

So the first product then will be a framework, for consultation, to see "is this what you want in your framework?" It'll be a slimmed-down framework, but it will have in there details about knowledge for language. [cough] It will have in there in English also probably I think, well, the last time I looked at the English framework, ehm they were looking at organisers round functional language, personal language and imaginative language, but obviously you- you'll be consulted on that.

The other product from phase one will be a rationale. And I've highlighted here some of the key things that I've wanted to include in the rationale for languages other than English to give you a flavour of where I think Modern Languages would like to move. But, there will be a common rationale from the language group. And in it we will start by clearly establishing in relation to those four key capacities, the essential role of language. And that the more able a pupil is to understand how they use language effectively, then the more they will become successful learners, er effective contributors, responsible citizens and so on. And therefore, you know, I think I think that's an area that's of obvious strength to our group. In terms of Modern Languages we want, I think, to come up with a much s-s- simplified structure, which ensures a good start to their language learning in P6, 7, and which is then continued into the secondary, in a progressive way. And to do that I think we have to take account of the reality of the primary context in which the language is being delivered, and we have to play to the strengths of both sectors but particularly to the primary teachers who are currently having to deliver a modern language without necessarily being hugely com- confident themselves in the use of that language, and they've had the added pressure of having to track different strands, and assess the pupils at a time when they've done so little language that there's not an awful lot there to assess. And therefore I think we're trying to take some of that pressure off and look at what would be a good start to their second language ex- learning experience. And I think in order to promote that positive attitude and sense of enjoyment, we have to play to the strengths of the primary teacher, and that, to my mind, is establishing a solid basis for lifelong learning of other languages. The primary teacher is ideally placed to make the links to what they've done in Eng- English language, to see where what they have been doing in their own language will help them as they try to access a second language; equally by starting a second language, it's a chance to understand better what they've done or revisit areas of their own language. And I think we really need to look at that area and develop more clearly what we would want them to do, as- and look on this as a chance to say "if the natural progression is to pick up a second language, what opportunities does that give us to become more effective learners?"

So I've highlighted there some of the things that we would think the primary teachers particularly well placed to do; that is, identifying both the similarities and differences. And the differences are important too; the fact that they are learning a second language and there are things that they have to learn, like grammatical structures, like spelling, accents and so on, pronunciation, but understand why the- and how they check that and become more accurate in it. Similarly the the language skills. It's important that we do develop all four language skills. We tend to s- concentrate obviously on listening and speaking, with reading and writing in a support role, for beginners. But it's important that they do look at all four skills, and see how they interrelate and support one another. And again the primary teacher is well placed for that because they will have been helping the pupils develop as, we hope, effective readers in their own language, so when they move into a- another language, they should be able to say, "well, how much of those skills still hold, what new skills do we need to to develop?"

In the development phase, there's quite a lot of things I think we'd want to reshape. One of them I think is is looking at the link between their English language or their main first language, and this second language. And it's a chance to come up with more effective teaching programmes. The whole idea of the decluttering is to create more time, for meaningful, enjoyable experiences, with less emphasis on assessing, and it's a chance for us I think to come up with a, well I would like to think, a much more meaningful, relevant and enjoyable programme, that the pupils enjoy learning and th- the teachers enjoy delivering. And I think we'll, well inevitably we're going to have to make use of ICT, not just to enhance the delivery of the language, but in our terms again, in Modern Languages certainly, to to bring it alive, to let them see the real context of learning a language, because they can access websites, they can access real people, they can email and set up links with schools, so it gives them meaningful context for the the tasks that we're going to ask them to do; develop all four skills, but without losing the enjoyment that's been, that was characteristic of the Modern Languages programme when it first started, and that has to some extent been skewed by the need, with the revision of five to fourteen in Modern Languages, to start tracking different strands and different levels of assessment at a time when they're only just experiencing the language.

And a very important one I think that we've underplayed in the past but which I think we need to address in, here, is the cultural aspect. Again, it's something that the primary teacher is well placed to deliver because they do projects across ehm subject areas, environmental education, ehm looking at countries in Europe, and there's a role in there for the languages. I, but I, not just I think eh modern European languages, but for Gaelic culture as well. It- it's certainly something I think we need to make them more aware of and it again fits very nicely to the capacities. So, a good start's essential. Because without that, without that enthusiasm it makes their language learning very very er difficult. But we do again need to look at the transition from what's happening in P6, 7 into S1 to 3, and that the programme is coherent, it is progressive, it is enjoyable. And it builds, not just in terms of the content, because I think too much in the past has been just content-delivery; it's not just the content that we want to take on but we want to see, can we also take on some of the teaching approaches that have been used there? And I think the common link is likely to be the Assessment is for Learning approach, of clear objectives, meaningful activities, becoming better aware of how they evaluate their own progress, their collea- their their other pupils' progress, and evaluating and become more effective learners. I think that'll be the common link across the two sectors.

And what we would be wanting is some clear idea of the outcomes at the end of S3 that we would want the vast majority of our pupils to achieve, so that they've got a meaningful level of competence in a European language, or a language, before they make their choice as to whether they then continue with that as part of their further career, or they put it aside for that point. But that's where we're trying to go to in Modern Languages in terms of a rationale. Okay?

We're looking at the concept of a language passport as a means of tracking their achievement over this P6 to S3 stage. I'll say a little bit more about assessment when we look at phases two and three. Erm [cough], but, you know, a p- a portfolio of achievement which identifies the tasks that they've worked through, the things they've produced, the areas they've covered, ehm which goes with them, or starts with them in the primary, goes with them into the secondary, and then is erm drawn together and er certificated at the end of S3. And obviously in our rationale we will be looking ahead to S4 to 6 and the changes we would like to see there, but at the moment the focus is very clearly on the three to fifteen framework.

Okay? So the second outcome or from our erm deliberations will be a rationale. A rationale that sets out the direction for language teaching and in our case specifically for modern European languages. So there'll be the framework and the rationale will be the two key documents that come out for consultation in phase two. However, before phase one finishes we've also been asked to give our, each group's, initial thoughts on what should happen in phase two, and phase three. So we are producing documents which suggest how phase two might be taken ahead, and we're also looking ahead to the fifteen to eighteen stage and suggesting what the implications there might be. And my final two or three overheads er refer to that.

So phase two, whenever it starts er and I'll try, I mean at the moment, phase one is keeping, is is being extended as we speak, but it looks as if phase one will draw to a close some time in December. Our group has a meeting scheduled on the second of December, and various documents have to be passed up the line to the programme board by mid-December, so I think they're looking now at drawing a close to phase one by the end of this eh term. And then thinking ahead as to how they engage with everyone who has an interest in the curriculum in the next phase. And as I say they're they're they're still di-, as we speak, discussing what's the best strategy for that, what's the best way of consulting and engaging without frightening people, because if you're a primary teacher and you've got eight areas of the curriculum all re- being reviewed, even if the changes are to slim things down and hopefully to make things better, it still seems like a large amount of change. So there's debates going on at the moment as, do they drip feed and go with Science, English, Maths, and then the others, or, what? And as I say I d- I really don't have the detail as yet; I can at best give you the sort of direction in which we're going.

But at the con- the the phase two is characterised by two words: engagement and development. It's engagement with everyone who has an interest in the curriculum in education, and I think this is the crucial phase, that people will have a chance to look at the framework, to look at the rationale, and see whether they agree with the direction that's being proposed and the detail that's currently being provided. And it's absolutely essential that everyone who has an interest and who wants to see changes there, you know, are, is ready to to erm engage with this. The forms of consultation will be mixed because they will want to reach as many people as possible. I've indicated there erm this Modern L- Foreign Languages environment is a it's a new development in Modern Languages that's just underway, but the idea is that every teacher of a modern language will have access to it; it's a website being developed by Scottish CILT and Learning and Teaching Scotland, erm, and it will be a discussion area; it will have CPD activities. It will have erm development links, and I'm fairly sure that it will be one of the means by which whatever we're putting out will be up there for teachers to look at, to comment on, to have discussions about. But of course also there's a need for face to face engagement. And I think there will probably be a pattern of national seminars with follow-up local authority events. But, ehm, as I say, those, it'll be a mixed package I would think.

Equally important if people are consulted on the direction and the changes that we were proposing, if there's an agreement that that's where we should be going we then need to make sure that there is a development erm and support er group set up to take forward that. Certainly in Modern Languages, again, we tend to, I'm tending to look at it as trying to simplify and exemplify. Trying to simplify what it is people are working towards, and then exemplify good practice whether it's in teaching, assessment strategies, levels of performance, and I think that's the areas we would be looking to set up. We've al- well certainly again in terms of European languages or or languages other than English, I've been sa- I've been suggesting, that in the second phase, this phase here, the development phase, we need to obviously widen out the current language group. The current language group might continue as some sort of oversee- overseeing group, that others report to, but to take forward the development engagement, each area will have to bring in a range of interests and expertise, and draw upon the good practice that's out there, and there is a lot of good practice out there, there's a lot of good resources out there. It's it's it's needing a team to sit there and say "right, what's the best that we can do with a- at each of the key areas", and certainly in terms of again European languages, I think we need to look at that first crucial interphase of when they pick up a second language, a second language. What links do we make with English, and I think Knowledge about Language is a crucial one. But how do we really get that phase interlinking well for both areas? That's one crucial area for us.

Another one is when they move into the secondary, can we come up with cross-curricular learning experiences? And I'm sure again, people with expertise in that area could look at projects where [cough] English language, a Modern Language [cough] and social subjects for example work on a European-based project under the Global Citizenship umbrella. There's [cough], and it's not that all, it's not that all the language teaching would be delivered in that way, but some of it would, some of it would, so the pupils see the holistic nature of learning, not just the compartmentalised subject areas, each doing their own thing. And I think th- as I an I hope is [cough] that there's a better opportunity for that. Because if we can slim down the guidelines, the frameworks, for everyone, into four or five A4 pages, rather than all the documents we all have at the moment, it becomes much easier for a teacher of social subjects to see what the learning experiences have been in English of the pupils that they're [?]teaching[/?], and therefore the links that we can make. Similarly with Modern Languages. And it- that is very much the thrust of what they would like to develop.

Now i- I mean, it would be naive to suggest that's easy in a secondary context where we have problems of timetabling and so on, but it should be possible, I think, to look at at more integrated approaches there. And that's certainly one of the key areas of development that we would, you know, need to be working, cause it's it isn't happening at the moment, or not on a consistent basis. And I think equally we need to make sure in our area that we have exemplification of standards, cause it's something that always worries teachers of Modern Languages, "Am I being too hard or too lenient?" cause we're, it's usually internal assessment that we do, particularly of speaking, and it's in the area that they're always worried about. Whereas if you can exemplify the level of performance, it suddenly becomes much clearer, and in lots of cases more reassuring, what it is they're working towards.

The third area is the implications for assessment; we will be looking at particularly for fifteen plus, but just to recap, ehm, three to fifteen, what I've talked about so far, I think the Assessment is for Learning approach is certainly going to be I th-, the common thread that runs through ehm not just our framework, from primary into secondary, but all the frameworks. We had a two-day [cough] conference at er Crieff Hydro at the end of September where all eight groups presented in ten minutes to the other groups what we had been doing so far, and to the HMI, and to the programme board, [cough] so that they could see the way ahead. And it was interesting that all of the groups were looking at the same sort of way of presenting their frameworks, the "I can do" statements, the clear objectives, the meaningful experiences, the evaluation, as they approach, and that's very much I think the strategy that they'll be encouraging. It looks as if assessment up to f- age fifteen will be by a portfolio of achievement, and that it would be internally assessed with probably moderation and whatever from SQA. But what, there, and we may go for the languages passport idea, but it will be some sort of portfolio of achievement that tracks what they've done and how well they've done it, from wherever they start to wherever they finish.

But what they're trying to resist is the notion that we simply move the national qualifications further down the school, and that we give exams like Intermediate One and Two which were devised for sixteen plus, and we give those to fourteen, fifteen year olds as they're coming out of second year and third year. They're very much trying to erm hold the line against that, and of course there's a tension there because curriculum flexibility, which is the other big erm project at the moment, it- it- it's almost erm going in the opposite direction; a lot of schools are looking to bring the national qualifications to S3, or not. So there's obviously a tension there. But they're aware of the fact that if they do that then the importance of those learning experiences, those integrated meaningful contexts for learning, they'll get pushed to the side, as people concentrate on national qualification outcomes, statistics, pass marks and all the things that schools are assessed against. So I think it's absolutely important that a kind of clear line is drawn there, erm and and the influence of the national qualifications doesn't just keep permeating further down the the school curriculum.

So the implications for assessment fifteen to eighteen are, I think I think the first thing I would say is, it looks, it looks to me as if it's fairly certain that in the future the secondary curriculum is going to be planned and broken into two three-year groupings of S1 to 3, S4 to 6, Rather than the cur- current model of four plus two. The curriculum for flexibility is moving in the same direction there. S1 to 3 is likely to be the core part after which the main career choice, whether vocational, academic, a mix of both, which national qualifications you would be moving forward to, I think it's it's likely to be that sort of model, which means, hopefully, there's maybe more flexibility in the upper school curriculum for variation. That would also indicate that there will be a rationalisation down the line of Standard Grade and the national qualifications.

One of the areas in Modern Languages where we've got attention at the moment is Standard Grade against, with the three levels Foundation, General, Credit, sitting against Access Three, Intermediate One, Intermediate Two. And quite a lot of schools have moved away from Standard Grade into those areas, particularly Intermediate One and Two, partly to get away from doing a writing folio, which they've had to do as a revision to Standard Grade, but also because of course th- the notion of the Higher Still framework was that there should be better progression up that structure, so if they're achieving Intermediate Two, then the following year the step to Higher should be relatively clear. And I think in Modern Languages, I would like to think, that that has worked quite well and that's part of the reason that some schools have moved across, and the Higher actually for us is working quite well, the Higher Still development, and of course I'm saying this because I was the National Development Officer at the time on that, but in Modern Languages, it went, it really went ehm, well I think, quite well, because we did, we knew we had to make changes, we took the profession with us and we consulted and made changes, and we came up with something which I think has resulted in erm, teachers in the upper secondary certainly feeling that their pupils in Modern Languages are doing at least as well now in that area as they are in other areas of the curriculum. But I was equally aware at the time that there were big problems concerning Higher English, [cough] which I don't think have been resolved or addressed and certainly from what Graeme's said this morning, and I know talking to Jim McGonigal erm it's an area of discussion. So I think this'll be the chance to look at that area again, and I'm sure that there will be the notion out there that this is the chance to maybe address whatever the perceived weaknesses or gaps in that area, erm, is.

Okay? Those are, as I say, are the thrust of what we would be looking for there: obviously the opportunity to study new languages, the opportunity to do vocational use of language as well as academic study of language, at the time of Higher Still they floated the notion of school group awards, where you could do something on travel and tourism where a language would be a core skill along with English and ICT and so on. So they may look at that again, given that they've now got three years to work with rather than just the two that was there, that were there before. But again, hopefully it gives you an indication of the opportunity that's there, to revisit an area if you're not happy with what's working there, and to influence the the future direction of it.

So finally, [laugh] and this is the last one, erm just a couple of thoughts on what what can you do now in preparation for this. I think the crucial thing is just to get ready to engage, because whatever comes out, whenever it comes out, I think you have to be ready to make your pitch, to argue your corner, to put forward coherent proposals for whatever you think would be the beneficial changes to the way the subject area is taught at the moment. And I think a way into that would be to have a look at the capacities, the four capacities cause they're going to be the key drivers, they're going to be the [cough] the measuring points against which each subject area will be ve- will be assessed. And it will be the contribution you make to developing successful learners, effective contributors, erm, responsible citizens that will determine how much er weight will be given to your arguments.

So, that's as much as I have to share with you at the moment. I'm sorry it's maybe more on in the th- there's not a lot of detail I can share with you at the moment; it's more the direction in which I think things are moving, but I hope it gives you an indication of where we're hoping to go to in Modern Languages, and therefore we can look at how that links to ehm Gaelic into English language, and also hopefully gives you the the feeling that this if- is a major development; it's going to last for the foreseeable future, and it is an opportunity to make some, well I think, much needed changes to certain areas of the curriculum, so I would say, you know, it's a chance now to look an an think, what would you want to eh be advocating as the way ahead, for English Language, for Scots Language, for Gaelic, for whatever areas you are interested in. Okay? Thanks. [audience clapping]

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Information about Document 1382

Lecture: A Curriculum for Excellence: latest developments and implications for the teaching of languages in Scotland


Audio audience

Adults (18+)
Informed lay people
For gender Mixed
Audience size 6-20

Audio awareness & spontaneity

Speaker awareness Aware
Degree of spontaneity Partially scripted

Audio footage information

Year of recording 2005
Recording person id 607
Size (min) 47
Size (mb) 269

Audio setting

Recording venue Small lecture room
Geographic location of speech Glasgow

Audio relationship between recorder/interviewer and speakers

Professional relationship
Speakers knew each other N/A

Audio transcription information

Transcriber id 718
Year of transcription 2005
Year material recorded 2005
Word count 7965

Audio type

Lecture/talk, sermon, public address/speech
General description Talk given as part of Continuing Professional Development course.


Participant details

Participant id 721
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation University Lecturer
Place of birth Newton Stewart
Region of birth W Dumfries
Birthplace CSD dialect area Dmf
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Glasgow
Region of residence Glasgow
Residence CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Baker
Father's place of birth Colmonell
Father's region of birth S Ayr
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Shop Assistant
Mother's place of birth Dumfries
Mother's region of birth E & Mid Dumfries
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Dmf
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Work and home
French Yes Yes Yes Yes At work and on holiday
German Yes Yes Yes Yes At work and on holiday
Scots Yes No No Yes Visiting family, relatives