Curriculum Development and Curriculum for Excellence

The advent of CfE is certain to increase demands made on teachers to produce curriculum development materials (in particular for “cross curricular” courses). The Association advises members as follows.

The contractual requirements

Teachers are required to develop the school curriculum. It is an explicit statement in Annex B of post-McCrone agreement (TP21). However this does not give the full contractual position. All teachers’ workload is limited by the parameters laid down in the school’s Working Time Agreement (WTA). It is now all the more essential that members are aware of the contents of their own WTA.

Curriculum development for most teachers can only be part of the “collegiate time” detailed in the WTA. The WTA must state clearly and unequivocally the time available for curriculum development. It is strongly advised that CD time is explicitly and accurately identified as being a fixed number of hours. There must be no dubiety as to whether a period shown on a WTA can be used for CD.

It is common to find that the time is between 5 and 10 hours. If the time allocated is significantly beyond this, there are likely to be items missing from the WTA. The advice note “The Format of a Working Time Agreement” may assist in this regard. It is this period of time to which teachers are committed. It would be clear that all of this time is likely to be outwith the teaching day.

Use of In-service days

It is well known that teachers have in certain schools used part of In-service days for curriculum development purposes. It cannot be argued that curriculum development equates to “in-service training”. However, if teachers agree, it is possible that a proportion of in-service training time can be used for CD.

Leading Curriculum Development

There can be no doubt that PTs are required to take the lead in CD. This should be no more than chairing meetings to discuss CD requirements and checking that the relevant required CD is identified. The PT is not responsible for undertaking a greater share of the CD.

In many schools, PTs (Subject) no longer exist. This does not make the PT role now a duty of teachers. Again, there is a separate advice note available on this matter, “Advice to members in departments where the PT is not a subject specialist”.

The proper provision for curriculum development

There is a long standing agreement within the SNCT that major curriculum development is work for seconded teachers. The practice of seconding teachers (individually or in teams) to write major curricular materials is long established and has the Association’s support. Such secondment should be detailed in a temporary variation to the teacher’s contract which would be provided in writing. Members are advised to have the variation checked. Contact should be made with the General Secretary. Account should also be taken of the next paragraph.

Informal secondment

It is also well established that offers are made to teachers that they be taken out of the timetable for certain periods of time to permit the writing of curricular materials. The Association has no objection to this mechanism subject to the following provisos:-

1. The teacher’s classes must not be simply allocated to colleagues. In such circumstances the burden in reality falls on the colleagues. The time must be provided for by the teacher being “taken off timetable” or by external cover staff being brought in to take the seconded teacher’s timetabled classes.

2. The teacher must simply agree to use the relevant time and must not agree to a certain piece of work being completed. The Association has already observed problems in this area. The time required to complete any piece of curriculum development is impossible to assess: there are too many imponderables. Teachers should simply agree to use the allocated amount of time and should promise no more. The allocated time should, of course, be used for its intended purpose.

For further information, members should contact the General Secretary. It is helpful to email using our address.


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