Teachers angry after ‘brutal’ cull of online resources

Education Scotland under fire for moving thousands of pages of content in attempt to ‘streamline’ website
20th January 2017, 12:00am
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Teachers angry after ‘brutal’ cull of online resources

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/teachers-angry-after-brutal-cull-online-resources

Teachers have complained about the loss of valuable classroom resources after a “brutal” purge of Education Scotland’s website in which thousands of content pages were moved or made inaccessible.

The government agency took action after the site had ballooned to 20,000 pages of case studies and materials.

The move was broadly welcomed when it was mooted late last year as a response to concerns that teachers were struggling to navigate the site’s huge volume of information about Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

But since the start of term, teachers and other educational professionals have taken to Twitter to complain about the removal - apparently without warning - of highly valued information and resources, which cover areas as diverse as history, internet safety, music, games-based learning and Scots language.

‘Concern and upheaval’

Education Scotland has told TESS that nearly half of the materials are freely available on one of three websites. Most of the rest have been handed over to partner organisations or stored, rather than deleted.

But one teacher, Athole McLauchlan, summed up the mood of many teachers on Twitter: “I hadn’t realised the axe was so extreme. Some brilliant resources lost forever then?!”

Another, Paul Hamilton, said: “A quick glance at Twitter reveals just how much concern and upheaval this is causing for teachers across the country!”

A history teacher, Mhairi Dewar, described the removal of teaching and revision resources for her subject as a “shambles”.

Peter Reid, headteacher of Broxburn Academy in West Lothian, told TESS that “many well-used resources that people knew where to find have disappeared into the ether”.

The concerns go beyond qualified teachers: Derek Roberson, a University of Dundee expert on games-based learning, said that the overhaul would force him to rethink some course assessment for his students.

Mr Robertson, who previously worked for Education Scotland and its predecessor organisation Learning and Teaching Scotland, added that many high-quality resources that he had contributed had disappeared.

“I cannot understand what their thinking was in doing this and what the rationale was for the severity of the culling of their online material,” he said.

A University of Strathclyde lecturer said students had looked for information that showed up on Google but could not now be found via Education Scotland.

And a forlorn pupil in Falkirk tweeted her music teacher during the Christmas holidays after a fruitless search for research materials.

Graeme Logan, a strategic director for Education Scotland, had told a November meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s education and skills committee that the launch of a new corporate website and separate “national improvement hub” would result in a “dramatic change”, with a 90 per cent reduction in 20,000 pages of CfE case studies and materials that had built up.

“We are stripping that resource right back to the core materials,” he said. This followed advice from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on “streamlining and clarifying” information.

Content ‘disappeared’

Education Scotland told TESS that nothing had been permanently deleted and nearly half of the content was available on its “refreshed” main corporate website or the National Improvement Hub - typically resources dating from the past two years - or on its national qualifications site. Everything else had been archived, moved to partner organisations or, in a few cases, rehomed at the Glow online education network.

A spokeswoman added that every section of the old sites was “reviewed by education specialists”. Teachers had been “widely consulted” through, for example, road shows and an online survey.

However, she did not rule out a return for some of the archived content if there was enough demand for it. Comments can be emailed to enquiries@educationscotland.gsi.gov.uk

@Henry_Hepburn

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