At the ATRES conference this year both Brian Boyd and Patricia Watson delivered presentations on A Curriculum For Excellence and the role RMPS plays within the new curriculum’s delivery. Boyd, who was part of the original group that envisaged what ACE might be, said it was replacing a system (5-14) which was created out of a lack of trust in the teaching profession. ACE, he believes, is all about trust. Interestingly, Boyd stated that there was no topic in the working group he was a part of in which RME wasn’t included. This suggests, he stated, that ‘RME is at the heart of the curriculum in the 21st Century’.More generally, Boyd discussed what he considered to be the main Barriers to change. These are:
- The Examination system – are we placing too much weight on summative assessment?
- Professional Vested Interests – are we afraid as to where the new curriculum might take us?
- HMIe – do inspections create a climate of fear and unnecessary paper work?
- Nostalgia to a Golden Age – are we more inclined to look back to an age which didn’t even exist rather than look ahead to a potentially fruitful future?
Boyd appeared to reject the idea that Outcomes were necessary in the delivery of ACE, which was interesting considering Patricia Watson delivered the following presentation. Watson is responsible for the creation of the new RME Outcomes!
Watson’s presentation was incredibly thought provoking as she opened with the following statement. ‘Truly excellent means:
- Excellent teacher
- Excellent RME Department
- Excellent learner in RME’.
She then posed the question ‘What projected image do we give to our colleagues, pupils and parents?’ This certainly encouraged me to carry out more evaluation of the department and myself within the school community. Ultimately, I felt incredibly positive leaving the presentation. As a teacher of RMPS I felt confident that my subject:- makes a significant contribution to the curriculum- Is really well placed to take forward ACE.- Can make a significant contribution to the wider life of the school outside of the classroom.However, Watson made it clear that there are still areas we need to work harder at. RME is about challenging pupils, not enjoyment. The subject must also constantly strive to be relevant to the lives of the pupils by including other patterns of living in Scottish Society. ACE has raised the benchmark for teachers, schools and Scottish education in its widest sense. As Watson stated, excellence means ‘the very best there is’, and that is some challenge for us to rise to.