Tagged: Opinion

Scottish Independence Referendum – Consultation #indyref RT



The Scottish Government consultation sets out the proposals for the question to be asked and the rules governing the campaign and the vote. A draft Referendum Bill is set out as an appendix to the document. The consultation seeks views on a number of issues, including what the ballot paper should say, what spending limits should be set on campaign groups and how the referendum should be managed and regulated.  It also sets out the timetable for parliamentary and public debate. Responses to this consultation will be used to inform the further development of the bill before it is debated in the Scottish Parliament during 2013.

The consultation is open to the public, however responses must be completed by 11 May 2012. I urge anyone who reads this (and lives in Scotland) to read it carefully and respond accordingly, regardless of political affiliation. This referendum has the clout to change Scotland forever and the opinion and voice of The Scottish People must be heard.

I’ll be blogging more about the consultation and I’ll be setting out my own stall for Home Rule circa March 2012. Watch this space or sign up and I’ll send my thoughts directly to your RSS Feed or your inbox. If you read this and don’t yet follow me on twitter – please connect with me and I’d love to enter into a debate with you – @leeandrewdunn. I’ll follow back regardless of your opinion.

You can read more about the consultation by following this link: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/scotreferendum


The Teacher, The Social Media Site and The Public

Here we are, advancing steadily into 2012. I find it slightly amusing if not frustrating that my first post this year is based on the use of scoial media by teachers. Forgive the title – The Teacher, The Social Media Site and The Public – however I do believe that we are stepping into the fantasy world of mystical beings, talking lions and batlles between good and evil.

Scottish teachers are being warned that their use of social networking sites could put their careers at risk.

For those of you who work with children and young people outwith Scotland, the issues are exactly the same. The media has made a fine example of professionals who have stepped over the line and merged their personal and professional lives together. Easily done when that proverbial line is hardly visible.

This is what the SSTA says:

The Scottish Secondary Teachers Association believes teachers can reveal too much personal information on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The union also fears they could become overly familiar with pupils.

The General Teaching Council of Scotland is preparing new guidelines on social networking sites.

This follows a number of recent cases brought before the GTC’s regulatory body.

Jim Docherty, assistant secretary of the SSTA, told BBC Scotland that teachers should follow his advice: “First thing is don’t bother telling anybody else about your social life. Nobody is interested about your social life and it doesn’t help.

“Secondly, never make any comment about your work, about your employer, about teaching issues in general.

“There is always a possibility it will be misinterpreted.”

And this is what the GTCS says:

The recommended advice for teachers is that the online environment is an extension of your professional responsibility as a teacher. So conduct online must mirror the Standards set out in the GTC Standard for Full Registration and the GTC Scotland’s Code of Professionalism and Conduct (CoPAC). The interesting thing about the CoPAC is that it does not exclude the use of social media with pupils but states that it must be”… professional, appropriate and justified“. For this reason the Disciplinary Sub-Committee

has said that; “…for the avoidance of doubt, there should be absolutely no ambiguity or perceived ambiguity between a teacher’s private life and his/her professional life in electronic communications”.

– John Anderson, Head of Professional Practice, GTC Scotland

In essence, if you have a social media account as a teacher – it should reflect your professional responsibilities as a teaching professional. I wouldn’t expect teachers not to discuss education (in general) so the GTCS shouldn’t either. That’s like asking a politician not to talk about politics. It isn’t going to happen. If you have a personal account, it must be kept completely separate and private. This can be a potential minefield at the best of times if you are unsure of the features available in the programs and you should seek advice from colleagues if you’re not sure.

I for one will continue to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress and the magical wardrobe to Narnia. Of course, with a splash of common sense. Essentially, don’t post anything in the public domain if it is something that you wouldn’t want your mother, spouse or employer to see. Secondly, don’t direct message pupils or add them as friends – be cautious about adding those who have left school as they may have friends on their social site who you still teach.

Lastly – if in doubt, go with your gut instinct.

Scottish Government Consultation – review of post-16 education

We all recognise that education is key to improving the life chances of our young people.  At the end of the last parliamentary session, in the Green Paper Building a Smarter Future, The Scottish Government set out a range of options for the future of Scotland’s universities. If there is to be true transformational change across the post-16 education landscape, then we must look at colleges, universities, skills and training as a whole. The operation of these sectors together, for learners, is the key to unlocking the potential of our people for their benefit and for that of our economy.

The Scottish Government has now brought forward detailed proposals for a reform programme for the whole of post-16 education in Scotland in the pre-legislative paper Putting Learners at the Centre: delivering our ambitions for post-16 Education.

The proposals are focused on:

• creating better life chances for all young people;

• better aligning outcomes with the Scottish Government’s Purpose, specifically the Government’s ambitions for jobs and growth; and

• creating a more sustainable approach to funding post-16 education.

These three fundamental drivers give rise to proposals for improved access and progression, the alignment of skills and training with jobs and growth, the support of research and ways to make study more affordable.

The paper sets out proposals for wide-ranging reform of the full range of Government-funded post-16 education in Scotland – higher education, further education and skills. In the light of the consultation on Building a Smarter Scotland, they have already discussed many of the issues facing higher education and outlined their aim to deliver a sustainable future for the sector.

This paper has drawn on the analysis of the responses to that consultation to set out more definite proposals for HE and The Scottish Government are now seeking views on how these may best be implemented.

On further education and skills the paper builds on the recently published ‘Willy Roe’ Review of vocational training and the Skills Strategy. If you are part of this landscape or simply have an interest, I urge you to read through the proposals and put your thoughts to Government.

You can access the consultation here: Putting Learners at the Centre – Delivering our Ambitions for Post-16 Education

Developing an Education Performance Framework – Part 1: Measuring the Learner’s Journey

This is part one of an article on developing an education performance framework for the 21st century.

Firstly, a quick reminder that what I write here on my blog, does not always reflect the policy or current aspirations of Government. Simply put, they are my own personal ideas, based on my experience and expertise in such things. Secondly, my thoughts do not explicitly recommend indicators which could be used to measure success, but rather my high level expectations which I believe must be applied to the education system. Although widely based on education in Scotland and ergo inherent to Curriculum for Excellence, the principles could be applied in any other setting, in most countries undergoing some degree of transformational curriculum change.

The purpose of this article (presented in 2 parts), is to stimulate thinking and generate discussion; specifically related to testing and measuring education through a transparent, robust and effective performance framework which measures the impact and value of education on young people.

Current priorities are centred around the continuing implementation of education reform; modernising national qualifications and assessment, including greater recognition of wider achievement; developing a teaching profession which is modern, adaptive and driven to excellence; improving leadership, transformational and strategic, both within schools and across lifelong learning; breaking the link between poverty and low achievement and attainment; enhancing services for vulnerable young people such as those who are looked after or have Additional Support Needs; raising attainment – specifically in literacy and numeracy but also across other areas of knowledge and skill; and producing better outcomes for those children and young people who require partnership intervention to improve their life chances.

We don’t need to scrap everything and start from scratch. Schools – and the wider lifelong learning system – are already familiar with the process of self-evaluation and quality improvement. Demonstrating effectiveness and identifying areas for development is a practice which must continue and there are already firm foundations which can be built upon.

Broadly speaking, I define an ‘education’ performance framework as two separate, but harmonious elements:

  • The ability to test, analyse and measure the learning system: adaptability, responsiveness and effectiveness to meet the changing needs of children and young people. This must be embedded in the culture, structure and processes of learning and teaching whilst supporting individuals through a modern approach to integrated services, incorporating education, social work and health etc.
  • Robust monitoring of both the individual and collective progress of children and young people and their achievements: measuring progress throughout the learner’s journey and recognising their outcomes upon leaving school, an episode of learning and when reaching the end of the statutory curriculum (or later for those who remain in school post-16).

Education is being increasingly framed in lifelong learning terms, from pre-birth and prior to the early years of nursery and primary school, through to the later stages of adult learning. A high priority has been placed on providing children and young people (hereafter young people) with the skills for learning, life and work; whether through compulsory education, post-school study or non-formal learning opportunities. Focus must be steered towards the quality of learning and teaching and ergo the experiences of young people as they make their way through their journey. By applying better service synergy and improving the parity of agency portfolios – roles and responsibilities – young people will develop as successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.

Indeed, I have written about this before in some depth and you can read more here.

This perspective implies a different conception of the data and information needed for policy development and monitoring by:

  • focussing on the whole age cohort to capture the full variety of learning experiences at two key stages within the learner’s journey (perhaps a minimum requirement);
  • accumulate data on achievement and other measures of attainment, rather than just the highest level attained; and
  • where feasible, measure non-formal learning activities as well as formal education; this might include participation in a range of activities outwith school which contribute to the holistic education experience.

Here is the Scottish context: The OECD recognised the need for Careers Scotland (or Skills Development Scotland) to investigate approaches to providing schools, local authorities and colleges with comprehensive point-in-time data on school leaver destinations. Developing the capacity, through 16+ Learning Choices, to track learning pathways and transitions into and through the Senior Phase curriculum will become increasingly important in the years to come, and this is underpinned in my Policy and Practice Framework. Not only does this allow schools and local partners to plan and deliver a more cohesive and relevant curriculum which meets the needs of young people, it also produces robust and timely data for national analysis and statistics. An education system which is flexible, responsive and adaptable, especially during economic recovery is desirable and we must be able to test this, challenge it and support continuous improvement across all of its components. Equally, partnerships with other learning providers and agencies which offer young people support to sustain learning is common across the international landscape and is not unique to Scotland.

In part 2, I will explore this concept in more detail and focus on some of the key principles required to create an effective performance framework. I’ll complete this series by drawing together conclusions to support the principles outlined within and tidy it all up with a nice, rounded explanation of what needs to happen next.

Poll: Which country has the best education system?

Which country has the best education system?

Well folks, the votes are in and the results are as follows:

1)      Finland received 40% of the vote;

2)      Sweden received 30% of the vote;

3)      Scotland received 20% of the vote;

4)      Australia received 10% of the vote.

Thanks to everyone who voted!