Wednesday, September 21, 2011

SLF 2011 - Opening Keynote

The opening keynote at the Scottish Learning Festival was fully booked but I thought I'd try to get in anyway... Not only got in but got a seat near the front too. What follows is a live capture of my thoughts/reactions to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell's keynote address.
Mike Russell
Getting ready for the keynote
"Today we are all learners"

He expressed the view that all of us are responsible for making our education system the best that it can be. Praised the dedication of teachers and expressed a desire to work with teachers to improve the life chances of young people. It is ambitious but achievable. Wants to listen and respond to the ideas from teachers on what can be done to improve education.

New National Qualifications.

Every teacher will be able to have their say. Information going into school, SQA meeting with head teachers, and a series of implementation events (one for every subject) will start in May.

{Curses! Moved away from the page to get a photo and lost a chunk of the text I'd typed. Commitment to post 16 is all I remember just now.}
"I am absolutely certain we are creating a better country and a better education system."


Paul Campell: McCormack Review - Paul questioned the decision not to reduce class sizes further. Said smaller class sizes allow for more creativity in teaching.

{How cool is it that the first question asked came from a fourth year BEd student? And was the only question to get a round of applause. Brilliant!}

Answer: Mr Russell claims to be an advocate of smaller class sizes but says that we cannot ignore the economic situation. He will listen to a range of opinion before making any decision.

Alec Wood: McCormack again - COSLA thinks the main function of teaching should be caring but McCormack disagreed.

Answer: Sat firmly on the fence!

Wendy Graham (From Australia): How do you sustain a system and support educational leaders and empowering people.

Answer: The quality of leadership is what distinguishes excellent schools. The collegiate nature of leadership is one of the strengths of Scottish education. We also need to make people keen to take on leadership roles.

Joe Boyd (Head teacher): Will there be changes to the governance of schools?

Answer: Likely to be informed by Local Authority elections

Paul McGill: How will pupils access two foreign languages in school.

Answer: It will take a number of years to achieve and they are taking advice.

Question: Cutting places in FE?

Answer: There will be enough places. There will, however, be rationalisation and there will be a push to get more for less. Will do it but it will require a creative response.

David Noble: Chartered Teacher. Will he be going into the discussion with George Street research or with McCormack?

Answer: Will take evidence from a variety of sources and have a debate.

Brian Cooklan (Head teacher): Schools have been experiencing efficiency savings and cuts for years. This has lead to a situation where there is a growing inequality between the resources available in different schools. How will this inequity be addressed? Also what about Probationers and new teachers?

Answer: We are now getting to the stage that the supply and demand of teachers are being brought into balance. As for differences between schools - he thinks it is right that we have a strong local element in the school system and would not want to move to a centralised system.

Parent: Wants reassurance about the new exam system.

Answer: He hopes there will be a proper debate and informed thinking rather than scaremongering. Revered to an article in The Scotsman where a journalists was arguing that in CfE, Scotland is doing a good thing. {This article perhaps? - DM}

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