Plan your year ahead

11th August 2006 at 01:00
Forget those new laminated calendars on your staffroom walls: just cut straight to the chase and see what lies ahead in what could be one of the most exciting years since the McCrone package . . .

August - Exam results out, and newspapers dig up same old headlines. If results have improved, Daily Mail bemoans a decline in exam standards. If results have fallen, Daily Mail bemoans a decline in standard of pupils. If results have stayed the same, Daily Mail bemoans lack of progress. Peter Peacock expresses delight in rising standards, whatever the results, and attributes the rise to Scottish Executive policies.

September - New chief executive of Scottish Qualifications Authority announces first priority: "to reverse the decision that allowed Learning and Teaching Scotland to bag the top floors in Optima House. Actually, I believe that's the real reason why Anton Colella left us, and I certainly don't want to spend the next three years looking into the bedroom windows of the Radisson Hotel. If I stay that long . . ."

October - Curriculum for Excellence relaunched and rebranded. Exciting plans ahead include a date for the next rebrand consultation exercise and subsequent relaunch. Several LTS and SQA project managers resign to set up consultancy firms instead.

November - Delight as another authority merits "Excellent" in all of its key evaluation areas. John Wilson of East Renfrewshire expresses pleasure that "yet another authority has been found to be as good as East Renfrewshire. Although I have to say," he concedes, "that as founder members of this exclusive club, it's not really as exclusive as it used to be."

December - Faith schools debate ignites again as Michael McGrath of the Scottish Catholic Education Service insists upon the right to celebrate Christmas. "Just because fewer than half of our pupils belong to practising Roman Catholic families," he says, "is no reason for us to abandon our long-cherished system of beliefs, and I shall be requesting clearance at the highest level to allow our traditional events to go ahead, such as the senior school performances of Grease . . ."

January - HMIE introduces an addition to the framework for inspections, where grades currently range from "unsatisfactory" to "excellent". A seventh grading will acknowledge schools and authorities that are "awesome". East Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire ask for regrading on a retrospective scale.

February - Long-predicted merger of Learning and Teaching Scotland and Scottish Qualifications Authority finally takes place. Bernard McLeary expresses "enormous pleasure" at the union, "although we do still have to finalise a few issues," he concedes, "such as the proposed space-sharing plan for the top floor".

March - Educational Institute of Scotland announces plans to strike over class sizes. Ronnie Smith declares: "The executive has promised us classes of 20 in English and maths at S1 and 25 in primary 1, yet they are still nowhere near that target. We simply do not have enough teachers, and we won't have for another five years."

Meanwhile, The TES Scotland reports that more than 75 per cent of last year's probationers still have no permanent position. Ronnie Smith assures reporters that plans to strike are "not in any way connected" with forthcoming elections to the Scottish Parliament.

April - Jack McConnell launches a nationwide tour of more than 20 Scottish schools that have benefited from the "massive investments in the past four years, especially under the innovative PPP programmes". Mr McConnell assures reporters that the trip is anything but a publicity-seeking venture ahead of next month's elections. The headlines are dominated by news of a student falling asleep at her desk in a secondary school, clearly under the influence of drugs. She is asked to leave the classroom and report to her PGDE tutor at Strathclyde.

May - Scottish press predicts large swing away from Labour in elections.

"Breakthrough for Tories at last!" announces Daily Express. "Mine's a wee Goldie," says Daily Mail. Herald opinion poll predicts enormous gains by SNP. "Peacock set to lose his feathers!" proclaims Scotsman.

Labour renews pact with Liberal Democrats. Immediate reorganisation of local government merges all seven Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire authorities. New authority to be called Strathclyde.

June - Peter Peacock announces solution to problem of class sizes by removing modern languages from the curriculum and retraining teachers in maths, English, or infant education. The Scottish Association for Language Teaching responds with mixed emotions: "It's a blow for languages, that's for sure. But at least if our members are teaching them English, Scottish pupils might learn some grammar for a change."

July - TESS Editor desperately tries to fill back page with humorous articles during quiet season. Fails, as usual . . .

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