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Curriculum for Excellence and its impact on higher education

Phase 2

The phase 2 project consisted of an exploratory study undertaken by Dr Lesley Doyle, University of Glasgow, and Vivienne Brown, Vivienne Brown Associates. The purpose of the study was to:
  • investigate existing levels of knowledge and understanding within and across the higher education, college and schools sectors on the potential impact of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) on higher education
  • investigate the extent, focus and form of preparation for CfE in HEIs
  • identify priority areas for discussion and further development, particularly in the HE sector
  • explore the value of using a sectoral approach, with the involvement of schools, colleges, universities and sectoral organisations

Due to the small scale of the study, the findings are indicative not representative but they offer a guide to the perspectives and priorities of the respondents in the study. These are presented under the following five themes:

  • Provision of learning and skills
  • Student experience (including personalisation)
  • Access and Admissions
  • Collaboration on CfE
  • Unknowns.

The study revealed an apparent lack of knowledge and understanding between the sectors, which could potentially impede cross-sectoral collaborative working in the preparation for and transition to CfE. The report concludes that more dialogue and understanding is required, both to support the learner transition to HE and to allow CfE to fulfil its full potential as a driver for lifelong learning. Respondents did however demonstrate a willingness to gain a greater understanding of the provision of learning and skills in each other’s sectors, and to work both within and between the sectors to facilitate future collaboration through training and information CPD, and co-operative and co-creative CPD.

To help co-ordinate systems and processes to achieve successful cross-sector learner progression, the report offers a range of suggestions for:

  1. Within-sector collaborative CPD (as a precursor for between-sector work on the impact of CFE) and
  2. Between-sector collaboration, addressing cross-sector leadership and policy; admissions policy and practice; transition (for both students and staff); linkage between CfE and HE pedagogy; and a need for empirical research on the impact of CfE on learner outcomes,  learning and assessment transitions from secondary school/ college CfE to HE curriculum, and on skills progression from the CfE Broad General Education through to HE Graduate Attributes.

Phase 3

Building on the outcomes of the Phase 2 project, the objective of the Phase 3 work was to support the wider engagement of the HE sector with Curriculum for Excellence, through information sharing and discussion, with a focus on transition, curricular development and pedagogy (especially in the first year), and associated staff training and development needs.

While the events will seek to engage the HE sector primarily, we will be looking to include representation and/or involvement from the other sectors as far as possible.


Dr James Moir, University of Abertay, Dundee, was appointed to design, plan and implement a programme of activities which included two regional workshops and a one-day sectoral conference.

Two workshops were held in November 2013 and February 2014. Both were a great success and the presentation are available to view on this webpage. The final CfE event was the one day conference which was held on 14 April 2014 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh.

Presentations from the conference are now available to view.

Outcomes of the work included:

  • briefings on the discussions and conclusions from each event
  • a practical toolkit for HEIs to support preparation for CfE
  • case examples sought from HEIs to illustrate strategic, collaborative and practical approaches at  individual, discipline, and institutional level, to develop provision and practice both within Curriculum for Excellence and beyond, in the HE curriculum
  • presentation at the annual Enhancement Themes conference on 12 June 2014