I’ve enjoyed my short visit to Learning and Teaching Scotland. As is often the case with these sorts of visits you get so much out of the informal discussions, some of which can go on well into the evenings!
The generosity of time and sharing of professional expertise of these busy people is always amazing. You get a chance to get some depth to the often superficial information you get on flying visits. This level of conversation stimulates and stretches your perspectives.
Click on the links for my ‘Learning Conversations’ with Sheena Devlin, Head of Education Early Years and Primary for Perth and Kinross Council and Catriona Oates from the National Centre for Professional Development on teacher-learning.
As I wrote in a previous post, Scotland is rolling out a new national curriculum and one of the long points of discussion I had was around external testing. In this new curriculum, authorities have resisted the move to external testing and the publishing of externally set targets and league tables.
Schools can choose to do such tests if they wish but it is a local matter only. Of course this is the path that England have now chosen to go down after a decade of rigorous external assessment with little to show by way of either improving student learning or school improvement.
The major focus of Scottish and now English education authorities is improving teachers’ learning. Authorities seem now to understand student learning is greatly influenced by ongoing learning by teachers and leaders.
There is also an increasing use of technology through webinars and the like to reach all teachers. We had several discussions about John Hattie and they were very interested to hear our response to his work.
The wider involvement of the community through partnerships is another strategic direction encouraged by schools here. All schools are encouraged to build partnerships with local businesses and to find experts that may be able to add value to the work of schools. There is a real understanding of the need to open schools to the wider community in real and tangible ways.