THE ARRIVAL of the Scottish parliament will bring a whole new dimension to school visits and may act as a spur to pupil democracy, if plans being laid by its education team come to fruition.
Alan McClosky, the education officer, and his assistant Jackie Spiers, are both fresh from the classroom. Mr McClosky taught modern studies and French at St Ambrose High in Coatbridge while Ms Spiers came from Deanburn primary, Bo'ness.
In interviews with The TES Scotland, they spoke of the huge enthusiasm they believe exists for exploiting the potential of the parliament. Many teachers have already made contact and the team has been visiting schools.
Mr McClosky hopes to host six to eight school visits a week, compared with Westminster's one a week, a task made easier by less frequent sittings that are planned for Holyrood. "We want to show pupils democracy in action, not something intimidating and arcane but something that has relevance to their daily lives," Mr McClosky said.
Maximum use will be made of technology. The parliament's website will have a section aimed specifically at teachers and pupils, and will update the teacher packs to be launched on June 1. Video-conference links will allow pupils to lobby their MSP or take part in debates with pupils from other parts of the country.
Increased awareness of the new Scottish democracy could have less comfortable consequences for teachers. "One school suggested that, if they had to wear uniforms, then so should the teachers," Miss Spiers said.
Democracy in action, page 19