Scotland Policy Conferences

We are continuing to organise full-scale virtual conferences which retain all the features of physical seminars, including full programmes, presentations with slides, panel discussions and live delegate questions and comments sessions, person-to-person and group networking, and a permanent record provided to all delegates afterwards. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time, so there are plenty of opportunities to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are.
For booking-related queries or information on speaking please email us at, or contact us: +44 (0)1344 864796.

If you’re already booked on, joining instructions can be accessed from five working days before your conference via the booking dashboard. Need help? You can contact our Delegate Relations team at or by calling the above number.

Curriculum for Excellence - implementation and performance, raising attainment, options for reform, and priorities for the OECD review

October 2020

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will assess the next steps for Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence.

It takes place as the OECD begin their Independent review of Curriculum for Excellence, commissioned by The Scottish Government and due to report in June 2021, which will look at Broad General Education (BGE), the Senior Phase and the transition between the two.

Delegates will examine key priorities for the Review and its remit as it begins - informed by a keynote contribution from Andreas Schleicher, Lead, Independent review of Curriculum for Excellence and Director, Directorate of Education and Skills, OECD (pre-recorded).

Keynote speakers taking part live in the conference include:

  • Clare Adamson MSP, Convenor, Education and Skills Committee, Scottish Parliament - on the Committee’s ongoing work on Curriculum for Excellence
  • Orlaith O’Connor, Assistant Chief Inspector, Department Of Education and Skills, Republic of Ireland

A scan of key discussion areas:

  • Curriculum for Excellence - its long-term future and priorities for the OECD review
  • design and implementation - what is working currently in Scotland’s schools, and the key areas for improvement:
    • the design process - how well the Curriculum is being designed by schools
    • tailored approaches - whether schools are using the flexibility that it aims to offer individual schools
    • joint working - if schools are collaborating with colleges and other partners
  • roles and responsibilities - where final responsibility for curriculum design lies:
    • the role of Education Scotland - with Education and Skills Committee concerns at the adequacy of support for practitioners when they implement the curriculum
    • Education Scotland and the SQA - ensuring the development of an effective relationship between the two bodies, with further Committee concerns at an emerging disconnect
  • guidance for schools - whether there is a need for teachers to be given a more detailed framework for the Curriculum to ensure greater consistency in its delivery in schools
  • depth and breadth of learning - with concerns from the Education Committee, and some stakeholders, that Curriculum for Excellence has led to a narrowing of subject choices provided by schools:
    • senior phase - whether the Curriculum’s core aims have been met
    • progression - the effectiveness of preparing students for moving into higher education and employment
  • assessment - ensuring fairness for young people at National, Higher and Advanced Higher level following concerns raised regarding this year’s results, particularly around:
    • the initial downgrading of some grades from teacher estimates
    • the subsequent Government decision to reverse this decision and replace any downgraded results with the original estimates
  • transition from the Broad General Education to the Senior Phase - and whether S3 is being used effectively by schools as a transition year
  • parity of esteem - between academic and vocational routes, and whether it is being achieved in schools
  • funding and resources - the effect on learning opportunities of the financial pressures on schools, local authorities and external stakeholders, and options for the future
  • COVID-19:
    • overall impact of the pandemic - on Scotland’s schools, on pupils and on those working within the education system, and priorities for teaching going forward
    • new normal - delivery of lessons following the summer break as pupils return to school, and sharing experience of how it has been working, and issues that need to be resolved
    • Scottish pupils to be taught streamlined curriculum in bid to avoid further COVID disruption - The Times reporting that the SQA is looking into planning a reduced curriculum in some subjects

Relevant developments at a glance:

  • Curriculum for Excellence:
    • Independent review of Curriculum for Excellence - led by the OECD
    • the Education and Skills Committee findings on implementation - the subject choice has narrowed under CfE and an increase in ‘multi course’ teaching in secondary schools
  • grades:
    • publication and withdrawal of alterations to grades made in the 2020 Exam diet
    • an independent review into the process and events surrounding this year’s exam results to be led by Professor Mark Priestley, alongside a rapid consultation by SQA which will examine potential changes for the 2021 exam diet

The agenda:

  • Progress of the independent review of Curriculum for Excellence
  • The implementation and current performance of Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland’s schools
  • Raising attainment at secondary level - improving the transition towards the Senior Phase, tackling regional gaps in attainment, and achieving parity of esteem for vocational qualifications
  • An international case study in curriculum design and reform
  • Priorities for reforming the Scottish curriculum - improving curriculum design, widening the breadth of learning, and raising the consistency of delivery
  • Priorities for Scotland’s exam system

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from The Scottish Parliament and officials from Education Scotland and The Scottish Government.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles