Lone Ranger shot down
THE PROGRAMME for this year's Scottish Learning Festival has been published - now the hard part begins. Anyone planning a visit is advised to book the presentations that appeal to them in advance. With more than 150, this is a tricky but enjoyable task.
Speakers include Michael Fullan, author of the Change Forces trilogy, Stephen Heppell, technology and education guru, Mick Waters, curriculum expert, and Pasi Sahlberg from the World Bank in Washington. Scotland's education minister is due to deliver an address on the first day (September 19), outlining the Scottish Executive's ambitions for the year ahead. Eight spotlight speakers will tackle topics from leadership and professional development to the brain and behaviour.
But for the first time since the Learning Festival was the SETT show, with its clear focus on technology, a single strong theme can be discerned right across the spectrum of seminars and seemingly unrelated sessions.
Michael Fullan makes this explicit when he contrasts individual and collaborative models of educational leadership. The Lone Ranger who rides into town, sorts out everybody's problems, then rides into the sunset on his white horse provides a quick-fix model that has plenty of appeal in education, he says.
"All too often, educational leaders are called on to reverse bad situations - students who are performing below expected standards, teachers who do not trust management, schools who have lost the confidence of their communities."
But the Lone Ranger model is not the answer, says the international expert on educational reform. Instead, large numbers of people must be motivated to go beyond short-term solutions and achieve "deep and lasting improvement".
This contrast between quick fixes and lasting reform that grows out of culture change and collaboration is a theme in Fullan's writing and teaching. It is a recurrent refrain at this year's Scottish Learning Festival, and reflects the increasingly interactive nature of 21st-century education and technology.
Culture change and collaboration lie at the heart of both Glow and A Curriculum for Excellence. In a key presentation, programme directors Marie Dougan and Margo William-son will share the platform to draw attention to the synergies between the two major national initiatives. A separate session will showcase pupils' work and illustrate elements of the four capacities that have been developed using Glow tools.
Collaboration, culture change and cross-disciplinary connections are prominent in many examples of A Curriculum for Excellence in action. These include e-twinning, emotional literacy, possible curriculum architectures, and teaching across the transitions.
Scotland's teachers have welcomed A Curriculum for Excel-lence in principle. But many remain cautious about embracing the culture change until three aspects of the curriculum become clearer - learning outcomes, exams and qualifications, and how schools that take curricular steps into the unknown will be judged. Guidance will be provided by organisations with prime responsibility for each - Learning and Teaching Scotland, the Scottish Qualifications Authority and HM Inspectorate of Education.
A spotlight session of interest to teachers of science will be delivered by Jack Jackson, former national science specialist at HMIE.
Educational technology, while no longer the sole focus, remains a feature.
Sessions from experts such as Ewan McIntosh, will give teachers innovative but practical suggestions for using social software.
Other seminars from schools that catch the eye cover topics such as fair trade, Storyline, outdoor learning, Islamophobia, the Scots language, games-based learning, sustainable development and climate change.
New features include a local authority village, a poster session, a cultural gallery, and an international lounge hosted by the Scottish Executive and the British Council.
The Scottish Learning Festival is free, at SECC, Glasgow, September 19-20.
Register and book at www.scottishlearningfestival.org.uk
T 0870 421 1938