It's that time of year again when schools look ahead to the next session.
One of the key events will be the SETT 2004 show, an important opportunity for free professional development at all levels.
Schools and education authorities increasingly recognise the value of releasing staff en masse to go to Scotland's biggest information and communications technology show, which combines a platform for debate and good practice with an exhibition of the latest educational hardware and software. Now the September event is expanding into a Scottish learning festival to offer the 3,000-4,000 teachers who attend not just ICT to see, but more.
In particular, the organisers, Learning and Teaching Scotland, backed by the Scottish Executive, are taking advantage of the proximity of the Glasgow Science Centre to the show's base at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre. By crossing a footbridge across the Clyde, delegates will have access to one of Scotland's most exciting hands-on science centres and be able to hear about key science projects for primary and secondary schools.
The Executive's Future Learning and Teaching (FLaT) project, which pilots innovative work around the country, will feature in several sessions of the main conference, as will national priorities on creativity, enterprise, numeracy and literacy. Highlights will include the opportunity to meet and talk to children from Room 13 at Caol (pronounced "cool") Primary near Fort William, where pupils run their own art studio, employing artists to come in and help them produce award-winning works.
Headteachers are being encouraged to attend this year. The second day of the two-day conference is a big day for them, designed to encourage networking of all kinds.
Several hundred heads are expected to attend a special event for participants of the online community Heads Together. Nicholas Janni, associate director of Olivier Mythodrama, will give a keynote speech on leadership, based on Richard III, to an invited audience and George Telfer, of The Leadership Trust, will talk about ways to tackle personal obstacles in Determined to Succeed: Enterprise in Education".
Ewan Aitken, education spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and a TES Scotland columnist, will talk about why the most important element in an ICT strategy is the aspirations of people, not the technology. His vision is one-to-one access.
Professor John MacBeath, chair of educational leadership at the University of Cambridge, will talk on the national priorities and how the nature of leadership and conceptions of professional development are changing.
The conference space is expanding this year. One whole hall at the SECC will be devoted to early years seminars; another will host keynote speeches and masterclass gatherings. More than 130 seminars will run across 10 seminar rooms, covering inclusion, national intiatives, creativity, e-learning, leadership and management, 5-14 in practice, secondary curriculum and Scottish colleges.
Each strand will also have its own spotlight session. These keynote speeches will be delivered by leading figures, including Philip Rycroft of the Scottish Executive on "Teachers' continuing professional development through e-learning" and Professor Paul Black of King's College London on "Formative assessment: interaction, feedback and learning". A member of the Scottish Executive will introduce teachers to a new Gaelic website, which is designed to form a communication hub for Gaelic practitioners and a learning environment that will be central to the future of the Gaelic language throughout Scotland.
A Scottish education village at the heart of the exhibition will run more than 50 mini-workshops with hands-on sessions for teachers. Two presentation areas will demonstrate best practice in the classroom, while another illustrates web services or software. Twenty teachers at a time will be able to sit two to a computer and try out the software while following the demonstration.
An important launch at this year's show will be several online packages procured for the Scottish Schools Digital Network, scheduled to start running in August 2005. Until then these will be delivered through the LT Scotland website. "There's not much content online now, but there will be a sea-change after SETT," says a spokeswoman for LT Scotland.
SETT 2004, Glasgow, September 22-23, organised by Learning and Teaching Scotland and Emap Education, supported by The TES ScotlandDelegates can attend one keynote session and two seminars per day, or one keynote session, one spotlight session and one seminar. Other seminars can be booked on the dayhotline, 0870 366 7096www.settshow.comwww.ltscotland.org.uk