Skip to main content

20-20 Vision

Both my schools reopened this week for the new school year. Amongst the emails waiting for me was one from the Scottish College For Educational Leadership (SCEL) I am taking part in the first fellowship programme intended to offer experienced headteachers extended professional development and an opportunity to influence, and have an input into, the national agenda for education in Scotland. High aspirations and still early days yet before we can judge the success or otherwise of this aim. I certainly have enjoyed many of the aspects and inputs we have experienced over the last six months or so, and they have helped me develop my thinking and understanding of the issues both here at home and further afield. The email asked me to consider my vision for Scottish Education for the next ten years and then to give some thought to what needed tou happen to deliver on that vision. No pressure there then! If someone is going to ask me for my vision for education they are certainly going to get it. Indeed, they don't really need to ask!

Here is what I wrote.

My vision for Scottish Education over the next ten years is that I want to see it continue to grow and develop into one that is really recognised as innovative and world class. It will be founded on and driven by shared values including that of equity of opportunity and provision. It will be one that continues to put learners at the centre of all it does, with high aspirations and expectations for all, driven by a relentless desire and drive to keep improving. We will stop talking about the gap for the lowest 20%, as this will have all but disappeared. The aim of improvement will be to equip all our learners to achieve their potential and have opportunities to excel, wherever their talents lie. I want an education system that is the driver for Scotland's social, intellectual and economic well-being and growing stature in the world. One that is connected seamlessly at all levels, and with all partners, to ensure individuals and the country are effective and responsible contributors to global understanding, development and success. I want a profession that is valued and which is committed to continuous and informed evidence-rich development and improvement of practice. One which is continually
focused on improved positive outcomes for all learners. We will embrace all technologies, new knowledge and understandings that will enable us all to be more effective as we seek to educate individuals holistically and according to their choices and wishes. Meaningful and equal partnerships based on mutual trust and respect will be seen as crucial and part of the system's lifeblood as we look equally inwards and out wards to better meet the needs of all our learners. I want to see barriers broken between sectors and agencies as we put the needs of learners first and foremost in our thoughts and actions. Systems and structures will be realigned to meet the requirements of new thinking and practices. Everyone within the system will deeply understand learning and how teaching skills and pedagogy impacts on this positively, and what to do if it doesn't. We will understand that there are no quick fixes or magic bullets to achieving all that we desire. But, rather it will be the expertise, professionalism and drive of teachers, schools, leaders and government to improve that will really make a difference.

 So then what needs to happen and what are the implications, so that we can deliver on this vision?
  • We have to really embrace career long professional learning that is focused on understanding learning and what impacts positively on this
  • We will have to let-go some current structures, systems and practices that have run their course
  • We need to be clear about our purpose
  • We need everyone to understand and support teaching and schools
  • We need to introduce and develop hardware and software that supports sound pedagogical practices
  • School leaders need to be 'hands-on' and supportive
  • We need to think holistically and promote innovative thinking and practice
  • We need to plan short term and think strategically long term
  • We need to truly embrace collegiality, cooperation and collaboration, locally nationally and internationally
  • We need to focus less of the speed of change, or breadth, but more on the depth. 
  • By slowing down we can achieve more and sustain more
  • We need to work closely with learners, parents and other partners
  • We need to become enquiry and research based in our practice
  • We need to recognise that 'one size' does not fit all and therefore build more flexibility into systems
  • Leaders need to model behaviours and 'walk the talk.'
  • We really do need to stop thinking and acting hierarchically
  • We need to develop more professional currency and courage
  • We need to stop being so precious about aspects of what we do
  • We need to read and engage with research and debate
  • We need to reduce the exam and assessment overburden for our learners
  • We need to review then connect our curriculum
  • We need to review and change our school sessions and terms 
  • We need to maintain and improve the support for learners 
Many of these things are underway and beginning to happen in Scotland. I am optimistic for the future of Scottish Education but there is certainly no room for complacency, just as there is none in individual school development. To me, everything I have in my vision is achievable and the ground has been prepared in order to promote future growth and development. We have a Government and Education Minister that have high aspirations and are supportive of schools and teachers. How far we go and how much we can achieve is down to all of us.

'Vision without action is just a dream.
Action without vision just passes time.
Vision with action can change the world.'
Joel A Barker

Popular posts from this blog

The Power Within

I sent a tweet the other day which seemed to generate a deal of resonance with some on my PLN. What I said was that meaningful school development can only come from within and cannot be imposed from outside. Now 140 characters on Twitter does have benefits but, as anyone who tweets regularly knows, it also has huge limitations in what you can say. So what I would like to do here is offer some further explanation of what I was trying to convey in my tweet.

For many years well meaning and informed people have increased our understanding and have made constructive suggestions  on how schools can develop and move forward. We also know that there have been lots of other suggestions made by less informed but vocal contributors to this debate! As all in education and schools know, everyone has an opinion or view on what should be going on in our schools. The media loves to feed on all of this and much of it stokes the fires of debate and gives oxygen to some of the wilder suggestions.

As som…

Testing Times for Scotland

'These are not high stakes tests; there will be no 'pass or fail' and no additional workload for children or teachers.' John Swinney 25/11/16

I start this look at the introduction of the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSAs) with  statement above from John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, made when he announced the contract for our new standardised testing had been awarded to ACER International UK, Ltd. This organisation is a subsidiary of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), whom have been responsible for the development of the National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) regime of high-stakes testing in the Australian system since 2008. I also believe they were one of a very short list of providers who tendered a bid for this contract.

I was drawn to this statement as I reflected on many of the responses I have received after I put out a request on Twitter …

Play not tests

Last night I attended the launch the 'PlayNotTests' campaign being led by Sue Palmer and the Upstart organisation in Scotland. This campaign is aimed at getting the Scottish government to think again about their decision to introduce standardised testing into Scottish schools, particularly in Primary 1. Upstart is a group whose main aim is the establishment of a play-based 'kindergarten stage' in Scottish schools, and they want to delay children's introduction into the formal education system until they have reached seven years of age. Before that, Upstart and their supporters, of which I am one, believe that young children learn best, and begin to develop the attributes they will need for life and learning, through play based learning, most of which should be located outside of classrooms and school buildings. This is a model that has been successfully developed by a number of Nordic systems, with positive impacts on the well-being as well as the learning of young…