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What is bureaucracy?
Curriculum for Excellence Working Group on Tackling Bureaucracy Report 2013
The report of the Curriculum for Excellence working group on tackling bureaucracy listed the causes of bureaucracy as follows:
Over-detailed planning processes - Planning at the level of every individual experience and outcome; planning with too many layers and too much repetition. A lack of balance between written planning and planning based on professional dialogue.
Assessment, tracking and reporting systems that are not fit-for-purpose - Inappropriate use of ICT systems. Quality assurance and monitoring processes that make insufficient use of evidence from day-to-day teaching and learning; and sometimes cumbersome approaches to profiling and reporting to parents.
Adopting rather than adapting - Inflexible use of “one size fits all” approaches to CfE rather than adapting to suit local circumstances.
Unnecessary auditing and accountability - Local authorities sometimes requiring excessive detail for auditing and accountability. Schools over-preparing for inspections based on misunderstandings about Education Scotland’s expectations.
Lack of confidence - Head teachers and staff still need to gain full confidence in the changes that they are making to their practices. This leads to detailed approaches being adopted in the developmental phase which could be – but are often not – reduced as familiarity and confidence grows.
Unclear expectations - Uncertainty over what schools have to do, should do and can choose to do in implementing CfE.
Why should we tackle bureaucracy?
- address the issue of undue workload for teachers;
- free up time for learning and teaching instead of completing unnecessary paperwork;
- clear guidance and advice is available for teachers.
How can we tackle bureaucracy?
Curriculum for Excellence Working Group on Tackling Bureaucracy Follow-up Report 2015
The follow-up report of the CfE Working Group on Tackling Bureaucracy identified some areas where bureaucracy can easily become a problem and made suggestions on how to tackle it.
Forward planning should be proportionate: there is no need to plan, assess, record and report at the level of each and every Experience and Outcome. It is almost always better to group together related Experiences and Outcomes and focus on the most significant aspects of teaching and learning. Forward planning should support professional dialogue rather than simply fulfil an audit function.
Assessment judgements, particularly within broad general education but also in the senior phase of CfE, should be based on evidence drawn mainly from day-to-day teaching and learning. Tracking pupil progress and moderation is important; however, there is no need to produce large folios of evidence to support this. Assessment within CfE is based on the exercise of professional judgement.
In the broad general education, schools should focus on assessing progress in significant aspects of learning rather than at the level of individual Experiences and Outcomes.
In the senior phase, SQA and local authorities should continue to streamline assessment and national and local quality assurance processes for National Qualifications and ensure that these are aligned and proportionate.
Self-evaluation and improvement planning
Whole school approaches to self-evaluation play a key role in improving performance but over-reliance on audit and “tick-box” approaches can distract from high quality teaching and learning. Self-evaluation should focus only on key information required to support improvement.
Local authorities and schools should review their approaches to self-evaluation and improvement planning to ensure that these are proportionate. Improvement plans should focus on a manageable number of priorities that clearly show better outcomes for learners.
Monitoring and reporting
ICT planning and reporting systems should be used with caution. There should be a realistic evaluation of the time required to utilise such systems and this should be factored in to school improvement plans. Just because such systems can support very detailed planning and reporting, does not mean systems are used effectively to support and protect time for professional dialogue.
Parents are looking for reports that give a clear, rounded personalised summary of their child’s learning and progress. They want good quality conversations with teachers that feel personal and specific to their child. The paperwork needs to support this rather than becoming an end in itself. Report card formats and other arrangements for reporting should avoid jargon and “tick-box” approaches such as covering each and every Experience and Outcome.
Local authorities and schools should focus on providing robust, concise information drawn from day-to-day learning and teaching that gives a clear picture of progress and achievement.
Local authorities and schools should regularly review the efficacy of ICT systems for planning and reporting to ensure that they are fit-for-purpose and do not unnecessarily take time away from teaching.
Schools should involve parents in developing more simple and effective means of reporting that emphasise quality of engagement rather than reams of paperwork.
Tackling Bureaucracy - Dos and Don’ts
- Be clear about expectations from local authority and Education Scotland.
- Plan CfE implementation according to local needs and circumstances.
- Bundle Es and Os for curriculum planning.
- Ensure a balance between written planning and planning based on professional dialogue.
- Streamline assessment processes to use information from day-to day teaching and learning.
- Be inflexible about implementation of CfE
- Engage is auditing which is too detailed or complicated.
- Over-emphasise written planning.
- Produce large folios of written evidence.