Evaluation of curriculum design in Scotland: Conclusion

HM Inspectors found that the extent to which the curriculum takes account of national and local needs, and the way in which staff across sectors involve stakeholders in designing the curriculum, varies across Scotland.

The most notable changes in the curriculum in the last few years have been driven by responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes building on learning with and through digital technologies, and focusing on addressing gaps in learning in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.

Staff drew on digital strategies, refining their practice over subsequent phases of remote learning. This approach demonstrates how staff in schools and settings can and do adapt their curriculum to meet the needs of learners in a rapidly changing landscape.

Staff across all sectors want to ensure that the curriculum for their children and young people is relevant to their needs. Staff continue to use local and national curriculum guidance to help them develop their curriculum. Whilst there is a lot of positive work taking place, there are still a number of barriers to ensure the curriculum is designed to help children and young people to achieve the best possible outcomes.

It is clear that there are significant challenges for senior leaders and staff in designing and developing the curriculum: barriers exist in relation to recruiting and retaining staff, access to digital technology and balancing time for collaborative professional learning. Staff are using a range of creative approaches to overcome these challenges. However, they need to do more to ensure that they are delivering a curriculum that has breadth, depth and progression in learning to all children and young people.

Staff in settings and schools increasingly use their knowledge of their communities to ensure that children and young people’s needs are being addressed through the curriculum, particularly in relation to literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing. Overall, this is helping children and young people to make better progress. Staff are using school grounds and the local area more regularly to facilitate learning outdoors.

Senior leaders need to implement efficient, responsive and effective improvement planning processes which include explicit, regular and robust reviews of their curriculum. Listening to the views, concerns, needs and aspirations of learners will support developing an up-to-date curriculum which takes account of technological, social, economic and environmental changes as they arise.

Children and young people are living in a rapidly changing world. Developments in technology, including Artificial Intelligence, climate change and global political issues, impact on the lives of our learners, now and in the future. Schools and settings must ensure that their curriculum is flexible and responsive to these needs and that it supports learners to develop the skills and knowledge needed to live and thrive in times of change.