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Showing posts from May, 2016

One Direction (no not them)

We are one week in of the new Scottish government and we have had a few announcements about the direction of travel for our schools and education system. The first was made by Nicola Sturgeon and was around the appointment of John Swinney as the new Cabinet Secretary for Education and Deputy First Minister. Mr Swinney was already Deputy First Minister in the previous Scottish Government and had previously held the position of Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy. A bit of a mouthful, but basically meant he was Finance Minister. The previous Cabinet Secretary  for Education, Angela Constance, had been given another post in the new governmnent, that of Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities. Ms Constance had not had an easy ride in her previous position and had struggled with being the voice-person on education as she had to announce, and support, a range of controversial measures seemingly designed by the First Minister as she sought to mak…

Dear John

Dear John
I would like to congratulate you on your new appointment and welcome you to the lead role for Scottish education. I am sure you recognise the importance of your role and the complexity of the issues and challenges you, and we the profession, face as we move forward together. I am also sure like us you relish the challenges ahead and are determined to do all that you can to help us deliver what we all desire.
If you don't know already, I will tell you at the outset that everyone in Scottish education shares your, and the First Minister's, ultimate aims for the performance of education. You will not find a headteacher, or teacher in Scotland that does not want the same as you. We all are committed to giving our learners the very best and holistic educational experience we can. We want them to be high attainers and achievers, we want them to be healthy (physically and emotionally) and we want this for all of our learners, not just some. So, we also want to work with yours…

Dream on!

Well, the election is over, all the dust has settled, and pre-election verbal froth dispersed. Our new First Minister is in place and her cabinet has been appointed. Good to see a even balance of gender in the new government, but perhaps one of the most significant appointments has been that of our new Minister for Education. He is a former primary school headteacher, and had led a number of schools during his previous career. The First Minister had indicated during the election, and in her party's manifesto, that education was to be one of her main priorities, were she to be successfully elected. Of course all party leaders had made the similar promises but the voters had believed many of her's and particularly the one to 'make our education system truly world class and to support our teachers and school leaders to provide the highest quality education for everyone of our learners.' She had also been true to another promise which was 'to appoint an education minis…

Real learning in real-life situations

Over the last three weeks I have taken part in two school residential visits. The first was with our P6 pupils and involved a visit to Edinburgh, and the second was to Dalguise in Perthshire with our P7s. Residential visits are seen as a pupil entitlement in Curriculum for Excellence, but they very much depend on the goodwill and ability of staff to plan them and be willing to be on duty 24/7 for the duration of the visit. I feel they are an essential component of an holistic curriculum and learning experience we are try to give our learners. We have thought long and hard about our residentials and have adjusted them to try and reduce costs for parents and to make sure they are accessible for all. We provide financial support for pupils and families that may struggle with the costs, because if we recognise them as important learning opportunities, then we want all our learners to experience them.
The visit to Edinburgh consists of a one night stay in a hotel, and two days filled with l…

What is going on in Scotland?

Like myself, there are many people who are getting more and more concerned with the direction of travel in Scottish education. Since 2004 schools and educationalists in Scotland have been engaging with and implementing the Curriculum for Excellence, originally called A Curriculum for Excellence or ACE. This promised a new and radical approach to learning in our schools and for our learners, and had emerged out of the National Debate on Education of 2002. This new curriculum focused on developing four key capacities in all our learners, successfullearners, effectivecontributors, responsiblecitizens and confidentindividuals. It also saw learning as broad and holistic with a focus switch from an emphasis on knowledge to one that aimed to develop skills, attributes and attitudes that had been identified as key by all partners. The other big aim was to 'declutter' the curriculum in schools for teachers and school leaders, as this was one of the many failings identified in the previ…