A co-operative relationship between Scotland and France is gathering momentum, following a European conference on vocational education.
The two countries had similar issues to address. Both were keen to develop better provision for children who might not find employment, training or education after school, and to introduce vocational education into secondary school from an earlier age.
"The French are interested in how we are managing, improving and reforming vocational education," says Hugh Wylie of Midlothian Council, who represents Scottish councils in vocational education and training. "They had heard of our school-college partnership development. We were interested in learning from their long-established set of routes to vocational education and their culture of good customer service and soft skills development."
The two countries have agreed to share good practice and joint projects at pupil, teacher and administrator levels. They will promote school partnerships, trainee teacher exchanges and expert groups of policy makers and practitioners in areas of mutual concern. The priority areas are citizenship and vocational education, healthy eating, ICT, school management and evaluation.
Expert groups have been formed for vocational education and citizenship. French experts in vocational education and training are due to visit Scotland in the new year, to develop partnerships between secondary schools.
The citizenship group, which covers Scotland, England and France, has already developed a healthy living and responsible citizenship checklist (Passeport Citoyennete et Sante) to be piloted in a few primary and secondary schools in the three countries this session. The use of blogging and podcasting will be encouraged through Woodhill Primary in East Dunbartonshire's project blog and a wikkispace for teachers.
Two Scottish secondary schools - Firrhill High in Edinburgh and Alness Academy in Highland - have been to France for a week-long programme of seminars and events surrounding the Rugby World Cup, as part of a project to develop their leadership, coaching and mentoring skills.