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Get set for the learning festival

SETT 2006 promises another great line-up of speakers and exhibitors and includes a TES Scotland lecture for new teachers, writes Gillian Macdonald

It is time to start thinking about who is going to the Scottish Learning Festival - SETT 2006 - in September. This is the biggest single event in the education diary and something every teacher should consider attending for professional development.

The same applies to student teachers and prospective student teachers, classroom assistants and other support staff.

The annual conference and exhibition, which established itself in 2000 as the SETT show and used to focus on educational information and communication technology, now covers all aspects of education, which is why the Scottish Executive provides more than half the funds, helping to keep it free for the 5,000 visitors expected to attend.

The lectures and seminars are organised by Learning and Teaching Scotland and the exhibition by Emap Education. The event is supported by TES Scotland and other key bodies such as the General Teaching Council for Scotland and the Educational Institute of Scotland.

The two-day programme at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow is structured according to key themes, in particular A Curriculum for Excellence and Excellence and Ambition. Other strands are support for teachers and learners (with sessions focused on early years, primary, secondary and additional support needs), leadership, skills for work and life, and international perspectives.

Since its earliest days, the conference has attracted internationally renowned speakers. This year is no exception, with Edward de Bono topping the bill. The originator of the term "lateral thinking", Dr de Bono is widely regarded as the world's leading authority on conceptual thinking. He has held posts at Oxford, Cambridge, London and Harvard universities and is coming to Glasgow to speak on The Powerful Effects of Teaching Thinking Explicitly as a Skill.

Marie Stubbs grew up and taught in Glasgow but became famous when headmaster Philip Lawrence was stabbed to death outside St George's Secondary in London and she was called in from retirement to lead the task force that had to restore order in his school. Lady Stubbs will speak on Every Child Matters - How does the Teacher Ensure that this Happens?

Andy Hargreaves has held visiting professorships and fellowships in England, Australia, Sweden, Spain, the United States, Hong Kong and Japan, and is currently the Thomas More Brennan Chair in Education at Boston College. His current research focuses on the emotions of teaching and leading, and the sustainability of educational change and leadership. He will speak on Success and Sustainability By, With and Across our Schools.

In addition, Terry Dozier, a former adviser to Bill Clinton, will look at Turning Good Teachers into Great Leaders and David Weinberger, from Harvard's Berkman Institute for Internet and Society, will talk on the subject of his next book, Everything is Miscellaneous.

A series of spotlight sessions will update teachers on national developments. Anyone looking for practicial advice following the curriculum review will be pleased to note that Maggi Allan, chair of the programme board, and May Sweeney, the national co-ordinator, will focus on A Curriculum for Excellence in Action.

Other topics under the spotlight will be new approaches to engaging learners, benchmarking Scottish education, Assessment is for Learning, inspiring leadership, learning and the brain, and unlocking creativity.

A new event this year, The TES Scotland Lecture, will support the festival's aim of helping a fresh generation of teachers maximise their career aspirations and potential. Aimed at student teachers, probationers and new teachers, this session will allow newcomers to the profession to put questions to a seasoned headteacher and past president of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland, Gordon Mackenzie, and new teacher Jane Harrison.

However many inspiring names there are at the conference, it is the 100-odd seminars by classroom teachers, school managers and advisers that spread the word on good practice. Whether it is primary-secondary transitions, health, leadership or anti-racism, maths, music or modern languages, there is no shortage of well proven strategies.

And if you want to get your hands on some of the resources being used to achieve success, you can visit the stands of more than 100 exhibitors from all over the UK, showing the latest in whiteboards and software to puppets.

This year's festival will feature an enlarged Scottish Education Village, bringing together Learning and Teaching Scotland, the Scottish Executive Schools Group, the Scottish Qualifications Authority and HM Inspectorate for Education. And learning and teaching zones will allow visitors to watch and take part in teacher and pupil-led workshops and demonstrations.

SETT 2006, September 20 and tel 0870 421 1938

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