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Five commandments for the school of 2020

Neil Munro reports from this year's conference, organised by Edinburgh City Council and The TES Scotland

There are already things about education in 2020 that are known now, according to Peter Peacock.

The Education Minister's five commandments are that:

* It will be a global world in which there will be competition for jobs and skills, so that those who will succeed will have to demonstrate resilience, flexibility, reasoning abilities, team-working and problem-solving dispositions.

* There will be 14 per cent fewer primary pupils in Scotland by 2014 which will mean fewer schools, not so many S5-S6 courses available in all parts of the country and more remote learning.

* Technology will improve dramatically, with the expansion of broadband in particular leading to the transmission of huge volumes of data in milliseconds and therefore more educational opportunities online. Teachers will no longer have the same captive audience they once did and will become "the guide by the side, not the sage on the stage".

* An "inexorable" move to personalised learning, leading to deeper conversations and closer relationships between teachers, pupils and parents.

* Division of services for young people will be a thing of the past. While highly qualified teachers will remain key figures in schools, support staff from health and other agencies will increasingly work alongside them.

Mr Peacock emphasised the importance of input from other specialists. He cited one school he had visited where some of the pupils were being given intensive psychotherapy "because the headteacher realised that if they didn't overcome their problems, they wouldn't learn; and, if they didn't learn, they wouldn't achieve".

He assured his listeners that the programme of reforms launched last week is intended to "liberate schools to do what they believe is right for their communities".

Mr Peacock said he had already seen practice throughout the country that allows that to happen. "I have seen teachers taking risks - but calculated risks," he remarked. "The Executive's strategy is firmly based on the principle that there must be opportunities for all and that we must be ambitious for all."

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