THE SECOND Success Stories exhibition and conference in Dundee last weekend came four years after the first. If it were not such a feat of organisation for the directors of education and the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, it should happen every year. Far more "good news" projects were suggested by local authorities than the 50 that were on display. There would never be a shortage of materials.
More important, Success Stories redresses the balance. True, its upbeat message of innovation across the system has to be overstated. Routine is the stuff of school life as well as experiment. But the organisers would have two good ripostes. First, the evidence of good practice is there for all to see. Second, teachers, parents and pupils need the optimism because most messages are of doom and gloom, for the most part rhetoric and sustenance for the media's preoccupation with bad news.
Lying behind all the Success Stories are teacher commitment and energy. We are often told how today's workload inhibits enterprise. The increase in bureaucracy and the demands of assessment are incontrovertible, but somehow teachers continue to go beyond what could be expected. The much maligned and much defended "contract" becomes irrelevant. At the opening ceremony the Secretary of State was treated to a demonstration of "brain gym" in which primary pupils went through a routine of exercise (and water drinking) which releases mental energies. Teachers probably don't do the exercises but they still exhibit the energy.