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Next week's Scottish Learning Festival is the biggest yet.

Gillian Macdonald finds out what's in store

Next week's Scottish Learning Festival is the biggest yet.

Gillian Macdonald finds out what's in storeNext week's Scottish Learning Festival is the biggest yet.

Gillian Macdonald finds out what's in storeNext week's Scottish Learning Festival is the biggest yet.

Gillian Macdonald finds out what's in storeNext week's Scottish Learning Festival is the biggest yet.

Gillian Macdonald finds out what's in storeWHERE CAN you find a Scottish education village, an international village, a local authority village and a cultural village? Answer: at the Scottish Learning Festival, which gets bigger each year and is turning into something of a conurbation.

Next week's festival in Glasgow is the biggest yet, taking over two halls and 20 seminar venues at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre. Almost 6,000 teachers and education specialists have registered for the event, where they can choose from more than 180 seminars and 160 exhibitors' stands.

Whatever your field of interest, and whatever stage you're at in your career, there should be something to meet your needs. Gone are the days when the event (previously known as the SETT Show) focused on new technology. Today, every aspect of education is covered.

Funded by the Scottish Government and organised by Learning and Teaching Scotland and emap, with The TESS as media partner, this is the biggest Scottish education event and potentially the best professional development opportunity of the year. It focuses on key themes of the moment.

The overarching theme for 2007 is Excellence in the Learning Age, with six strands:

* towards A Curriculum for Excellence;

* excellence and ambition;

* support for learners and teachers;

* skills for work and life;

* leadership; and

* international perspectives.

Across these strands, visitors can select practitioner sessions on early years, primary, secondary, further education or additional support needs, and attend keynotes by experts such as Michael Fullan, former dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and Pasi Sahlberg, senior education specialist for the World Bank in Washington.

Also in the spotlight are Glow, the Scottish schools intranet which goes live this month, and you can try it out for yourself; the workings of the brain, science education, professional learning communities and Assessment is for Learning.

The two days September 19 and 20 are packed with festivities: seething crowds, bright colours, lights, eye-catching plasma screens, music and videos, for this is a celebration of all that's best in Scotland's classrooms. You can watch live presentations by award-winning teachers, learn about creative techniques, get your hands on innovative resources, and hear international perspectives from experts who have travelled from the other side of the world to be here.

Closer to home, if you want to hear what the SNP Government proposes for you and your students, you can listen to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Fiona Hyslop, give her first address to the conference on Wednesday afternoon. She will also help launch Climate Change, LTS's new sustainable development resource. S5-6 pupils from across Scotland will be there to quiz scientists over a live link with the Antarctic.

Other major launches include Gigajam, LTS's free online music lessons covering a variety of instru- ments. Teachers will be able to hear more about the range and be entertained by the music of pupils from King's Park Secondary in lasgow. The National Theatre of Scotland will offer authorities the chance to motivate identified pupils and deliver key skills for the world of work through a special theatre event. And Learning about Learning, a new web resource which goes online just before the festival, will provide insights into how people learn, through 200 videos showing effective approaches adopted in Scottish schools.

And what of those villages? The Scottish Education Village will bring together all the key government agencies for education for the first time LTS, the Scottish Executive Schools Group, the Scottish Qualifications Authority and HMIE so you can talk to representatives about issues of concern. The Local Authority Village will give education authorities the chance to demonstrate strategies for initiatives such as Schools of Ambition. The Cultural Village will house 12 organisations, from the Scottish Screen Archive to the National Galleries of Scotland. And the International Village will have representatives from the British Council and the International Development Education Association of Scotland, and others, to offer practical advice for links with schools abroad and work placements overseas.


Twilights: a number of evening seminars are scheduled for teachers who cannot get away from school. These run until 6.30pm on September 19.

Podcasts: LTS has expanded its podcast service so anyone unable to attend can view seminars. More than half the speeches and work-shops will be available online after the event, and 100 seminars will be podcast with full video of the key-notes and most interactive semi-nars. The rest will feature full audio of the seminars or edited interviews discussing the main themes.

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