Editor's comment

18th September 2009 at 01:00

It's a time for celebration indeed, with the 10th anniversary of the Scottish Learning Festival upon us. It doesn't seem long since Fusion 2000, the original computer conference and exhibition which spawned it, opened its doors to Scottish teachers. Those were the days of Tony Blair's "information superhighway", when the politicians first started to drive IT as a force for education.

What surprised many was the speed with which Scotland overtook England. Delivering a highway for a small nation of five million was more manageable. But credit must go to our education ministers (Labour, LibDem and SNP) and their civil servants who bulldozed it through. They had the vision and determination to turn it into the reality which is now in our schools, and their strategy was inspired: the annual festival - or SETT show, as it was then called (Scottish Education and Training Technology) - provided a free showcase for hardware, software, masterclasses, a focus for IT training initiatives and laptops for teachers. Year by year it got more teachers on the road.

When it reached the point where the technology was established, schools were online and teachers IT-literate, a strategic decision was taken to expand the event to the whole of education and it has flourished, attracting 7,000 visitors - and long may they continue to turn up despite the growing staffing pressures on schools. What we have now is unrivalled anywhere in the world.

So when the Cabinet Secretary arrives on Wednesday to open the show and face her critics in these times of job cuts, teacher unemployment and recession, and when the Scottish schools intranet helps to deliver A Curriculum for Excellence to schools across the country, it is surely something to be proud of, and something that we at The TESS have done our bit to nurture.

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