Education hopes for 2010

1st January 2010 at 00:00

ANNETTE BRUTON - Aberdeen City Council corporate director for education, culture and sport

If I had one wish, it would really be to make progress with literacy and numeracy. There are more problems facing us now, as a country, than ever before. Therefore, the approach must be different.

My wish is that, five years from now, we don't have that one in five people having problems with literacy.

We are in a language-rich environment. The types of job people have now place huge demands on reading skills. A lot of the jobs where reading skills weren't really needed don't exist any more.

I have a particular interest in this and it has been a personal mission of mine throughout my teaching career. I was a learning support teacher and did a research project with colleagues in the 1980s on the transferable literacy skills across the curriculum, and I did a linguistics and language course at the Open University.

In Aberdeen, the council had already made literacy an explicit priority before I started my post in August. We have just seconded a literacy co-ordinator from one of our schools. We are also checking our literacy scores at Christmas time, rather than waiting until the end of the year.

ROWAN JOHNSON - S4 pupil, Brae High, Shetland

When my teachers first told me my exams were in 2010, I laughed. I thought it was ages away and there was no need to worry in the slightest. Yet here I am at the start of 2010.

Due to my lack of revision, and pressure from all involved, I can say quite honestly that I am scared. Teachers have told me to be confident in my exams, but when it feels like judgment day and they have already told you what they expect, how can you be?

If you ask a teacher how pupils should approach their exams, undoubtedly the response will be they should try their best and that will be enough. However, when you come back with less-than-perfect results, they are disappointed and tell you that you could have done better if only you had tried harder. This unfair, hypocritical view leads many pupils to be scared of their exams. They avoid the thought of them and so avoid the preparation the teachers are trying so hard to push.

My hopes for education? To ignore the hypocrisy and to pass my exams!

OLLIE BRAY - National adviser for emerging technologies, Learning and Teaching Scotland

The next 12 months are going to be interesting for Scottish education, not least because of the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence next August.

I recently visited Brazil as part of the Worldwide Microsoft Innovative Education Forum. I was struck by the amount of interest in Stirling High's exhibition space where they had a poster outlining the principles of CfE curriculum design.

Teachers from more than 40 countries swarmed around Stirling's stand. The feedback was amazing and straightforward: "In Scotland you have it right." At the same forum, I spoke to teachers from countries where students had to walk 20 miles to get to school. Another was from an eco-school project which involved growing food so children could eat at least one meal a day.

My point? Times are hard, but we remain very lucky - let's not forget that.

If classroom-based teaching professionals from more than 40 countries realise that, then we have a great opportunity for Scottish children. I want 2010 to be the year that we, as a nation and as a profession, start to realise it as well.

I want us to embrace this opportunity, mould it to suit our local and national needs, stop looking for faults and finally start to get on with it properly.

LISA GOODMAN - Pupil support manager at Deans Community High, Livingston

I wish the police had more resources so that Operation Floorwalk could be introduced across Scotland. I go out with police at weekends and find teenagers drinking on the streets in Livingston, Bathgate and Armadale. We take them back home, and talk with them and their parents. It's about relationship-building, not being seen as someone in authority. We've seen a massive difference since starting in 2007. One night in Armadale recently we picked up two 13-year-olds; in the past, we might have picked up 60. Young people may still be drinking but at least it's in people's houses, and that's safer. People in the community feel safer, too, because they're less likely to encounter big groups of teenagers.

We've had lots of people from other places come to see what we're doing, but money is tight. Still, with a bit of creativity, you can make a big difference.

ADAM SMITH - Newly-qualified teacher, Mount Carmel and St Sophia's primaries, East Ayrshire

A big thing in Curriculum for Excellence is that every child should reach his of her full potential. But there needs to be more support - from other professionals and in the form of resources.

I've been working in two schools this year that serve different socio-economic areas. The differences aren't huge, but they are significant enough to see that children from underprivileged backgrounds have particular needs. But so do more able children, who need to be challenged.

If a child lives in an overcrowded house, he won't get enough sleep, so it will be hard to focus. If he has not had breakfast, he will not be best placed to learn. People need food and love first. That's where other professionals come in. Services need to work together better, but we're not there yet. My biggest hope is that we get there. Other teachers probably see CfE as reinventing the wheel but, as a new teacher, I think it's really worthwhile. I also hope I'll find a permanent job. I'm ready to move on in my life but I can't because beyond the summer I have no job security.

ARTHUR JONES - Headteacher, Largs Academy

Just over 2,000 years ago, wise rulers from the East arrived at Bethlehem in Judea on camels with gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense. Recently, I received a significant number of large A4 folders as a result of wise proclamations from the east, entitled Curriculum for Excellence - a gift for each member of staff to guide and enlighten them on their onward journey.

If the recent gift does what it says on the tin, it will revitalise Scottish education, not because it is a new curriculum being delivered in a brand new way by converted staff, but because it is embracing the necessary changes required to equip young people for the times we live in.

My wish for the new year is that pupils' needs - in quality learning, teaching and assessment - are delivered, and that teachers are recognised as the most significant and valuable resource, irrespective of age, in delivering a curriculum fit for purpose.

The wise rulers were guided home via an alternative route, due to problems in the form of Herod. Hopefully, we will complete the journey, including detours, in a positive manner - and, when we eventually arrive, will look back at a curriculum fulfilling its purpose, young people enjoying a quality experience and a society equipped for the 21st century.

SAM NICHOLSON - Headteacher, Fossoway Primary, Perth and Kinross

My biggest hope is that we continue with the creativity that Curriculum for Excellence has been bringing into classrooms.

It's been liberating. I started teaching in 1990 when we taught in a thematic way, using ideas that were relevant to the children on that day and in that moment, and it was a wonderful way to teach.

The theme was the icing on the cake that got everybody enthused; the skills underneath were still the same.

Curriculum for Excellence is bringing that creativity, spontaneity and enthusiasm back. It's putting energy back into learning and teaching in schools.

My hope for 2010 is that we educate everyone about Curriculum for Excellence because I think it's wonderful.

ISABEL HUTTON - Cosla's education, children and young people spokesperson

This is my personal view of the future of education and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cosla, or the SNP.

My biggest hope for 2010 is to see the Scottish education system regain its rightful place as the best in the world, with standards other countries strive to emulate.

I also want an education system that sets its schools at the heart of their community, where education is delivered locally and is fully accountable to children and young people, parents and carers.

Such a system would be managed within a local government setting. National government would determine overarching policies and outcomes that are matched to the needs of our economy, but would also ensure the needs of all children and young people are met in a broad education system that enables them to achieve in the arts, music and drama, and sports.

Against the backdrop of a reduction in resources, I hope the Scottish Government will allow local decision-makers, working with their stakeholders, including the teaching profession, to set their priorities and secure the most positive outcomes for our children and young people.

This would mean flexibility to respond to local needs in terms of Curriculum for Excellence, and partnership agreements, such as free school meals and PE.

As for me, my New Year resolution is to stop ****ing swearing.

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