Vital for teachers to dictate future

8th December 2006 at 00:00
Teachers are the lifeblood of our schools. Throughout Scotland, they change lives every day, shaping youngsters for the future and helping them achieve their potential.

That's why we're committed to attracting the brightest and best into the profession, joining the ranks of the dedicated professionals who deliver results where it matters - in the classroom. We already have a great deal to be proud of. Our best teachers are truly among the best in the world.

Now our schools and teachers face major changes which will ensure our education system remains relevant in the 21st-century, preparing pupils for life beyond school.

A Curriculum for Excellence will, for the first time, create a coherent 3-18 curriculum which has, at its heart, the desire to enable all pupils to become successful learners, effective contributors, confident individuals and responsible citizens.

This radical overhaul of the curriculum will place greater emphasis on outcomes, and bring increased opportunities for cross-curriculum and inter-disciplinary working. Because this fresh approach won't be delivered by ministers or officials but by teachers, it's vital that they are involved from the outset. Teachers are going to be key to the successful delivery of A Curriculum for Excellence and need to develop the capacity to be Teachers for Excellence.

So what is a Teacher for Excellence? Perhaps it's easier to say what it isn't. It's not a new category of "super teacher". It's not another rung on the ladder, or an alternative to chartered teacher status. Nor is it an elite breed of teacher or exclusively for promoted staff.

The challenge now is to establish what knowledge and experience our teachers need to promote this new approach successfully. That's why I want teachers - the people who understand teaching and learning better than anyone else - to help shape our understanding of what it means for all teachers to be Teachers for Excellence.

Today I am launching the Teachers for Excellence debate, which is a chance to influence decisions about the way teachers can adapt their current practice to deliver A Curriculum for Excellence.

A new website will be an opportunity for teachers to get involved and have their say. There will be weekly updates, including thought-provoking and informative articles by a range of leading lights in education.

The debate kicks off with a contribution from the General Teaching Council for Scotland, describing the role of the Standard for Full Registration in creating Teachers for Excellence. Alongside this, Margaret Alcorn, the national CPD co-ordinator, looks at the role of continuing professional development. We also get the international perspective from Terry Dozier, formerly education adviser to ex-United States president Bill Clinton.

I want this to be an opportunity for constructive and thought-provoking, but above all, honest debate. A Curriculum for Excellence will stand or fall on the quality of our teachers. I'm confident that our high-calibre workforce can, and will, rise to the challenge and is more than equal to the task.

This is teachers' chance to make a real difference - both to their future and the lives of future generations. I hope that as many as possible will log on and contribute. The more views we have, the better the chance of being absolutely clear about what we need to do to ensure that we have Teachers for Excellence to deliver A Curriculum for Excellence.

Hugh Henry Is Minister For Education And Young People

* www.teachersforexcellence.co.uk

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