School-Based Curriculum Development in Scotland: Curriculum Policy and Enactment
Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), in common with with developments elsewhere, is said to herald a new era of teacher autonomy. The Highland Council has been at the forefront of enacting CfE; teachers, in collaboration with external agencies, have developed innovative new models to meet the demands of the new curriculum. Difficulties inherent in the translation of central curriculum policy into practice have been well-documented. Teacher mediation of policy and conflicting policy imperatives often produce an ‘implementation gap’ between policy intentions and classroom practice. CfE and the Highland Framework offer an interesting context for re-examining these issues, especially as the renewed extension of autonomy to teachers may amplify these issues, leading to greater variation in practice and potentially increasing the ‘implementation gap’ further. Our research employs a case study approach, drawing from interviews and focus groups within three types of teacher network. It analyses the processes that take place when teachers engage with complex policy of this type. Findings suggest the importance of facilitative leadership and generative dialogue stimulating transformational changes in teachers’ thinking and practice. However, our research also points to the existence of tensions within teachers’ work and aspects of teacher autonomy, as inhibitors in this process.