THE ideas behind the ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ in Scotland’s schools were put on show at an open evening for parents at Rothesay Primary School this week.
Staff and pupils demonstrated some of the principles behind the curriculum, which aims to help children of pre-school, primary and secondary age become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.
Nine workshops were organised to show parents the methods used to achieve those objectives – demonstrating active learning, co-operative learning, additional support needs, outdoor learning and eco schools, pre-five techniques, learning journeys, communications technology, Assessment is for Learning and Big Writing.
All of which sounds rather high-minded and official – but which means something rather more down-to-earth when you see it in action.
At the eco schools demonstration, for example, pupils were keen to show off the natural products they’ve made over the last few months – including natural bird feeders, lavender water and fertiliser made from worm wee – while Mrs MacDougall and her small group of P2/3 pupils were keen to show off the progress in both teaching and learning thanks to computer and interactive whiteboard technology.
The co-operative learning workshops run by Mrs Spencer and Miss Henry were particularly fascinating, with demonstrations of how to achieve better results for everyone by working together in teams in which everyone knows the job they have to do.
Rothesay Joint Campus principal Wendy Brownlie told us afterwards: “While you can tell parents everything there is to know about Curriculum for Excellence, we firmly believe that the best way for them to find out exactly what it’s all about is for them to see it in action.
“The feedback from those who attended was very, very good. Some parents were unable to attend, for a variety of reasons, and were really disappointed to miss out, but those who were there have gone away saying they do have a better understanding of Curriculum for Excellence as a result.
“The evening definitely achieved its objectives for those who were there, and we would like to look at holding a similar event in the future.”
Kevin McLachlan, vice chair of Rothesay Primary’s parent council, who attended Thursday evening’s event, said: “I took part in some of the workshops, and the children I saw really enjoyed the teaching techniques.
“I could see the benefit of working in a cooperative learning group, where each individual is responsible for their part within the group and each group had a different question. These answers were then shared around the groups, the teacher explained that children learn from each other as well.
“Another workshop I took part in was ‘big writing’, and the kids who helped the teacher were excited with the whole workshop and eager to answer the questions.
“They took the beginning of a simple sentence and expanded it by using vocabulary, connectors, openers and punctuation. The children loved finding ‘Wow’ words and demonstrating their ‘Kung Fu Punctuation’.
“I have attended the Curriculum for Excellence nights both last year and this year and I feel I know a lot more about CfE in Rothesay Primary School as a result.”