This year’s Scottish Learning Festival (Twitter #SLF11) is likely to be one to remember – either for better or worse. To be held on 21st and 22nd September, the theme is Curriculum for Excellence: Learning, Teaching and Assessment, Making the Connections.
The conference will also see the highly anticipated ‘launch’ of Scotland’s new executive agency – Education Scotland; a marriage between Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) and Her Majestie’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIe). The perpetual role and responsibilities of the ‘support’ and ‘challenge’ aspects of the agency are yet to be communicated in any great detail, though these traditional terms are likely to be ones that The Scottish Government would like to banish into the void; they do not convey the contemporary message which will realise the desired ties between Education Scotland and the learning and teaching profession.
Back in 2008, having attended and presented at a number of consecutive festivals, LTS asked me to produce a short paper which measured the impact of SLF. Given that the next event is almost upon us, I thought that I’d take the time to reflect on my previous thoughts, though I admit that I struggle to conclude whether the event is dead in the water or alive and kicking.
The Scottish Learning Festival is the largest education conference and exhibition of its kind in Scotland. Throughout its twelve year history, the event has been extensively evaluated by Learning and Teaching Scotland to ensure that delegates are benefiting from attendance. However, the real success of whether or not attendance is beneficial is in the long term impact that it has on the delegate and their classroom, school and professional practice. This ensures that the event is continuous throughout the year and not simply a two day event which promotes innovative ideas and an opportunity to network.
I believe that some teachers can have very narrow perspectives when their view is restricted to only one school or classroom and that SLF provides the ideal opportunity to have a fresh and unique overview of education. We have all seen significant change to the curriculum over the last few years and the future promises to bring ever more intensive and stringent reform to the qualification and assessment system. Improving the life chances of our young people and raising self-esteem, self-belief and self-determination, what I call responsible confidence, must be promoted amongst children and young people through a diverse range of creative and innovative pedagogy. By sharing ideas, resources and knowledge we can facilitate the growth and development of such practice to an extent where we provide infrastructure which will firmly support further implementation of Curriculum For Excellence.
I normally feel very excited following attendance at SLF. There aren’t many opportunities to meet with teachers from early years and secondary, colleges and other areas of education all in the same day and this type of perspective gives that broader picture. The conference programme arrives on my desk at exactly the right time. Based on current themes related to the curriculum and teaching practice, I always use it as a starting point to identify my own professional development for the year ahead, and it is an opportunity to see what other people are doing up and down the country. Increasingly, I have met with colleagues from other parts of the United Kingdom and from as far as the United States and Australia – indeed, if they make the effort to attend then so should we.
I do feel however, that in the current economic climate, some teachers may have difficulty achieving time away from the classroom – decreasing staff cover budgets and increasing workloads make attendance challenging – and I don’t know many teachers who attend both days.
I would really like to see the attendance figures from this year’s conference and compare them to those of the past. There could well be some serious questions to be asked. It may well be, despite all the advantages and good points to the event, that it has lived its course and a new approach is now needed. Perhaps, a controversial shift in time is needed, with an opportunity for teachers to attend at the weekend instead; are we given the chance to tune into a live seminar via video conferencing? This would be appealing to those who need to travel from afar and stay overnight – and of course it would provide a valuable record of the discussion. This is especially important, I feel. A record is needed if the conference is to continue impacting on learning and teaching throughout the year.
If you are attending this year, I may well see you there – please do give me a shout and say hello. I’d be interested in your after thoughts – either message me via Twitter (@leeandrewdunn) or send me an email. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions around the future of the event and its impact on your practice. At this moment in time, I’ll sit on the fence.
Four new Curriculum for Excellence factfiles are now available on the Learning and Teaching Scotland and Parentzone websites. This, the third series of factfiles, covers literacy across learning, numeracy across learning, 3-18 transitions and outdoor learning. The factfiles have been written with non-education-specialist audiences in mind and are designed to be used by practitioners to help explain the changes to parents/carers and learners. They are available in Gaelic.
Read the new factfiles in the communication toolkit or access them on Parentzone: http://www.ltscotland.org.uk
In February and March of 2010, Learning and Teaching Scotland hosted a series of conferences with the Scottish Government to support the implementation of 16+ Learning Choices for every young person in the Senior Phase curriculum. Conferences were held in Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow and attracted over 700 delegates from local authorities, schools, colleges, third sector organisations, voluntary organisations, and other organisations from across Scotland.
As a former practitioner in a secondary school, I presented at one of these conferences and I have attached my presentation for you. These are my own slides and they have no Government or School branding so feel free to use as you wish.
You can read more about the events by following this link: http://tinyurl.com/46a7j7b
Supporting learners within the framework
A national framework for all practitioners and partners, in every setting, aiming to help in supporting learners from early years to positive, sustained destinations.
The publication ‘Supporting learners – from early years to positive, sustained destinations’ has been published by the Scottish Government and Learning and Teaching Scotland. It aims to support the planning, design and provision of universal and targeted support for all children and young people towards the delivery of the entitlement that:
Every child and young person is entitled to support to enable them to gain as much as possible from the opportunities which Curriculum for Excellence can provide.
This framework is for all practitioners and partners, in every setting. Although it focuses on children and young people aged 3-18 in line with Curriculum for Excellence, it also recognises the need for supporting learners from birth to 18+ and therefore aligns with the national frameworks currently in place for children’s and young people’s services in Scotland.
Supporting learners – from early years to positive, sustained destinations
This document summarises the entitlement to support, the universal and targeted aspects, with links to further information on the Supporting Learners website.
Supporting learners – legislation, policies, strategies and frameworks
This document provides an overview of the legislation, policies, frameworks and strategies relating to supporting learners, with links to associated websites.
United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation – International Bureau of Education Annual Forum – “The Role of Assessment in Promoting the Development of Student’s Competencies” 22 November-10 December 2010
The IBE Community of Practice in Curriculum Development (COP) Annual forum will be held from 22 November – 10 December 2010. The focus this year will be on The Role of Assessment in Promoting the Development of Student’s Competencies. Through a discussion paper and a series of weekly questions aimed to stimulate reflection and discussion, I’ll be sharing my thoughts with international colleagues and I’ll include some insights on my blog through a series of posts. Chances are, I may well be asking you for some advice and information so if you’re reading this, please share and encourage your networks to follow me (Twitter @leeandrewdunn); the more expertise and experience that I can tap into the better!
There will be a different topic related to assessment each week. Here’s what to expect:
- Week 1 – What are the current issues and visions relating to the improvement of assessment formats, as seen from the perspectives of teachers, researchers and other education stakeholders.
- Week 2 – What are the implications of assessment approaches based on testing for certification in the teaching/learning processes and outcomes.
- Week 3 – What kind of assessment practices could play a positive role in the development of student competencies?
Apologies, I now need to add a boring but essential disclaimer; please note that any related posts, tagged UNESCO, although topical and based mostly on assessment in the Scottish education system and under the auspices of Curriculum for Excellence are directly linked to my personal and professional role as a member of the IBE Community of Practice and is not linked in anyway to The Scottish Government. All the source data is within the public domain and where expressed, opinions are my own.
A new Scottish Education Quality and Improvement Agency will increase and improve the coordination of support available to schools Education Secretary Michael Russell said today.
The agency will initially bring together HMIe and LTS and improve the efficiency of the national bodies supporting education. It will be responsible for driving forward innovation in education by promoting best practice and providing support, resources and feedback based on inspections.