Put stock in sharing

26th January 2007 at 00:00
Cross-curricular and across continents, teaching techniques are being traded in classrooms around the world

Whether it's being exported or imported, education is growing as an international commodity.

Earlier this month, officials from the General Teaching Council for Scotland and the Scottish Executive went to Atlanta, Georgia, to "export"

the benefits of the Scottish teacher induction scheme to American officials.

Late last year, two groups of Scottish teachers took part in GTCS-sponsored international study trips to South Africa and Australia. The knowledge and experiences they gained have been "imported" to their classrooms.

Seven teachers in business management, who were markers for the Scottish Qualifications Authority and had done its online Academy course, went to Cape Town, South Africa; and 11 chartered or aspiring chartered teachers went to Melbourne, Australia.

The theme of the visits was formative assessment. The South African group observed changes to the leaving exam from a largely continual assessment to a format which is 75 per cent examinable and 25 per cent assessable.

This group is less likely to have imported as much of the practice they observed on their visit. They were, however, amazed at how much the South African teachers could achieve with so few resources and classes of 50 pupils.

The Australian group visited a state which is three years down the line in its curricular reform. Like A Curriculum for Excel-lence, Victoria's new curriculum focuses on cross-curricular work, but has three strands in-stead of Scotland's four capacities.

The visits were organised by the League for the Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers and funded by the Scottish Executive. Rosa Murray, professional officer for chartered teachers at the GTCS, felt the visits would contribute to the teachers' professional development, generating evidence which could then be used to meet the professional standards.

Brendan Tierney, of the SQA's Understanding Standards project, said its involvement in the South African visit stemmed from a desire to contribute towards the professionalism of its markers and help them to become more reflective practitioners.

Next week: TES Scotland reports on whether Scotland's education bears comparison internationally

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