Author Archives: Jill McPherson

A different perspective⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

By Cat Thomson, Senior Development Officer, Enquire

The Young Ambassadors for Inclusion are aged between 12 and 18 and represent 22 of the 32 local authorities in Scotland. The group aims to:

  • Share young people’s views and experiences of inclusion;
  • Raise awareness of Additional Support for Learning with other pupils to reduce stigma and improve understanding;
  • Improve school staffs understanding of inclusion;
  • Work together to develop ways to develop and support inclusive education.

They are supported by Education Scotland, Enquire [the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning] and individual local authority staff.

In June, the young people took their messages about inclusion to the Scottish Cabinet.

“We want to be seen as individuals with our own set of unique strengths and skills.”

These are impressive words from Alistair, one of the Young Ambassadors for Inclusion who met Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary, John Swinney in June to share their views on inclusion and support in school.

During the meeting, 11 members of the group shared findings from their work. They were keen to raise issues they think it is important for policymakers, local authority staff, school leaders, teachers and support staff to hear and reflect on when making decisions about support for pupils with additional support for learning.

One of the first questions the Ambassadors considered was what inclusion means to them. Their comments make for interesting reading. Many of the young people saw inclusion as a positive thing making pupils feeling safe, accepted, and treated equally. Common messages were “everybody [should be] included in education regardless of need”, “being able to work together with a range of people”, “everybody involved, nobody left out” and “not being defined by any difficulties you have”.

A small number of Ambassadors talked about inclusion adding additional pressure to young people but the universal message was how incredibly important it is to young people to feel listened to, understood and supported. Comments included: “It’s good when we are listened to and asked what we need”, and “When staff have an understanding of different additional support needs and can understand certain behaviour it helps them understand why young people may act in a particular way.”

What works less well is when pupils feel excluded or unsupported: “Many class teachers and other staff do not have awareness of additional support needs, what that means for us and how to support in the classroom”, and “Pupils need access to all areas of the school and curriculum.”

A number of pupils wanted to encourage schools to give pupils with additional support needs the same opportunities as other pupils and not to make assumptions about their abilities, highlighting that sometimes trying something and not succeeding is better than not trying.

Key themes

Some of the themes they identified from their work included: raising awareness, friendship and belonging, positive attitude and support.

Raising Awareness

“Whole school awareness of ASN can support much better understanding and reduce stigma and isolation”

“Taking opportunities to share that people are different and you should not make fun of them.”

Ambassadors recommended that all teachers should have training on inclusion and the different types of additional support for learning pupils may have and how this might affect them in school.

They felt more could be done in primary school to raise awareness of additional support for learning and called for zero tolerance of bullying of pupils with additional support needs.

They suggested holding pupil conferences, taking part in national awareness weeks, putting on school assemblies led by pupils, or developing awareness raising days about specific issues such as mental health or LGBT.

Friendship and belonging

“I didn’t really feel part of mainstream school.”

Ambassadors called for schools to help young people feel more confident, build friendships and feel included. Schools should provide opportunities to take part in activities with peers.

Positive Attitudes

“Don’t segregate pupils with needs.”

“It helps to be patient.”

As one Inclusion Ambassador said to John Swinney: “We need to create positive stories about pupils with additional support need rather than focus on the negatives.”

Ambassadors felt schools should focus on raising awareness of the range of reasons a pupil may need support and how this might make a pupil feel in school, while also encouraging a more positive view of additional support needs.

“Supportive teachers in mainstream are crucial”

“Teachers need qualifications to work with pupils with additional support needs and medical needs.”

“Staff off and no replacement really affects learning”

Making it easy for pupils to ask for help and offer the right support

Sharing information about how pupils can ask for help and having supportive and empathetic teachers who can support pupil’s emotional issues was highlighted as helpful to encourage young people to ask for help when they need it.

Ambassadors stressed the importance of schools listening to pupils about the type of support they wanted in school. They also highlighted the impact of crucial support not being available to help them get the most out of school, with many reporting support had been reduced due to budget cuts. Others shared experiences of inconsistent staffing, and highlighted the impact this had on their learning and school experience.

Ambassadors encouraged schools to have a range of options for collected pupils views, including focus groups and questionnaires.

What next?

The Young Ambassadors for Inclusion are planning to create a pledge that schools can use to demonstrate their commitment to inclusion. They will also be involved in developing a support pack for schools, including a short film to raise awareness of inclusion, the range of additional support needs and the impact on pupils and their families.

This article also appears in August’s Children in Scotland magazine.

www.enquire.org.uk @ASLadvice

QuISE – Sharing the privilege of what inspectors see⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

By Alastair Delaney, Director of Inspection

Being an HM Inspector is a massive privilege. Unlike anyone else, you get to see practice in classrooms, colleges, and communities across the length and breadth of Scotland.  It is sometimes humbling to see the huge efforts that educational professionals and others are making to secure the best outcomes for learners.  It is certainly uplifting and affirming to see excellent practice across sectors and communities.

But HM Inspectors also have a responsibility to the system to share what they see and to analyse and synthesise all the evidence to help everyone tackle the challenges they face. Our recent report, ‘Quality and improvement in Scottish education 2012 – 2016’ (QuISE) is an example of us sharing what we have seen – both the excellent practice and the consistent themes and challenges that the system is wrestling with.  QuISE does this by providing detailed comments for each sector, but then also bringing the evidence together to identify themes for the system as a whole.

The five key challenges and opportunities that the report identifies are a rallying call to focus on what will have the biggest impact. I hope that they have proven useful in your discussions in staff rooms, local authorities and elsewhere.

Of course, the knowledge Inspectors gather is used in the interim period between publication of major reports such as QuISE. We are constantly feeding this evidence and intelligence into policy makers, politicians and others so that they can take account of it in their work.

We are also exploring how we can make some of our analysis of particular themes or issues more readily available to all, for example by running short, focused evaluations of particular issues of interest to ensure that we can help the system improve. This is just one approach we are looking at and we’ll update you on our plans in due course.

In the meantime, I hope that the report has been useful and, more importantly, has helped you to reflect on your practice and be creative and innovative in responding to the issues and challenges you experience every day.

Gaelic Medium Education – self-improvement, attainment and leadership⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

By Joan Esson, HM Inspector and Lead Officer for inspection of Gaelic Medium Education

The recently published report, ‘Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education 2012-2016’ (QuISE) highlighted a number of key areas of strengths and aspects for improvement from 3-18 Gaelic Medium Education (GME) inspections. You can read the chapter relating to GME on our website.

It was a great privilege to review our inspection findings for GME and evidence how the sector is developing. The approaches that are used in GME are a very effective example of language learning in Scotland.  Children learn the language to a high level of fluency which enables them to access learning through Gaelic, while achieving expected attainment levels in all areas of the curriculum.

Overall, inspectors found that most children and young people in GME were making good progress in developing their fluency. By the senior phase, attainment in Gàidhlig as a subject is strong.  Interest in the role of Gaelic (Learners) as an additional language, and the development of GME in some areas of Scotland, is growing.

In this blog, I would like to consider three areas that should be given initial consideration in using the QuISE report as part of the improvement journey for GME.

  1. Being a self-improving GME provision

Education Scotland aims to support practitioners as they build capacity for improvement. The QuISE report presents an important source for practitioners’ use in self-evaluation. The chapters for early learning and childcare, primary and secondary, should be used along with the one on GME. Education Scotland’s Advice on Gaelic Education gives a strategic guide to what constitutes high-quality national practice, some of which now forms statutory Guidance. Taken together with self-evaluation frameworks, practitioners have a rich resource to enable an in-depth focus on Gaelic. Senior leaders, along with other practitioners, should take time to use these resources for self-evaluation. In future inspections, we would like to evidence improved leadership of GME, with Gaelic being at the heart of strategic planning and part of continuous improvement.      

2. Closing the attainment gap

An important outcome of GME is that children attain equally well, or better, than their peers in English medium education. This gives parents confidence in GME for which we need to have a relentless focus on high-quality attainment and progress. In our forthcoming inspections, we would like to see practitioners, and indeed the children and young people themselves, being clearer on their progress and how to improve further. To clarify expectations, teachers assisted us in designing Benchmarks for literacy and Gàidhlig. These need to be used in the joint planning of learning, teaching and assessment;  for monitoring and tracking of progress and in the moderation of standards.

At all times, practitioners have an important role in interacting skilfully with children, while modelling good immersion techniques to help children acquire the language. Practitioners’ skill in doing this impacts on children’s fluency. Playroom experiences are threaded together and given direction with a curriculum framework that promotes continuity and progression.

Education Scotland’s Advice on Gaelic Education (particularly chapter 7), coupled with Building the Ambition, (particularly chapters 6 and 7), present practitioners with effective pedagogy for early learning in GME. Building the Curriculum 2 details children’s natural disposition “to wonder, to be curious, to pose questions, to experiment, to suggest, to invent and to explain”. In the immersion playroom, practitioners will engage in short periods of activities that they will lead as part of children’s intended learning. At other times, children will be choosing what they play which they may initiate as they follow their interests, or be an experience planned by practitioners.

If we are to close the attainment gap in GME, we need to recognise the early gains from a strong total immersion experience as part of early learning and childcare. For this, children need to hear and absorb very fluent Gaelic across a range of play contexts.   Practitioners’ quality and frequent interactions are key drivers in helping children to acquire fluency as they foster learning which is creative, investigative and exploratory.

3. Improving the leadership of the GME curriculum

The QuISE  report highlighted that our strong primary GME provisions are clear on the correlation between immersion, fluency and impact on attainment.   At the secondary stages, there is still more to do to ensure young people have enough opportunities to learn through Gaelic. We recognise in the QuISE  report that there are challenges from shortages of Gaelic-speaking practitioners.  However, we ask for more of a solution-focused approach.  Our Advice on Gaelic Education  (particularly chapters 9-13) gives strategic direction to the development of the GME secondary curriculum.

In our forthcoming inspections, we would like to see much more prominence given to those learning in GME as a group for whom pathways need to be developed. It would be useful to continue to develop a shared understanding of how Curriculum for Excellence, with its emphasis on the totality of learning, may be maximised for GME. Speakers of Gaelic are a key driver in planning the curriculum. Could more of our Gaelic-speaking practitioners in schools be delivering some aspect of the curriculum in Gaelic?  Could they, for example, be encouraged to deliver a subject, club, universal support or an opportunity for achievement through Gaelic?  The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” chimes with the need to increase the role of partners in the GME curriculum.  A good starting point would be for curriculum planners to know who their Gaelic-speaking partners are, and begin to ascertain how they can assist with planning and delivery of learning.

Finally, I would like to invite you to a seminar at the Scottish Learning Festival which focuses on how technology can increase learning through the medium of Gaelic. e-Sgoil presents a digital solution to delivering the curriculum. The headteacher of e-Sgoil will share an evaluation of some pilots that ran this year. Information on how to register for this seminar, and the festival programme, are available here.

“Children need to be more involved in talking about their own learning and progress”⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

By Jackie Maley, HM Inspector and Lead Officer for early learning and childcare

This is an exciting time in Early Learning and Childcare (ELC). Planning for the expansion programme is well underway as we look ahead to what this may mean for our future inspections.  There is much for practitioners to be reflecting on in their current practice to ensure this continues to improve and that they provide high-quality learning experiences for all children, including under-threes.

The recently published report, ‘Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education 2012-2016’ (QuISE) highlighted a number of key areas of strengths and aspects for improvement from ELC inspections. You can read the ELC chapter from the QuISE report on our website.

Inspectors found that the quality of children’s learning experiences continues to be an area of strength. Staff continued to promote children’s engagement and motivation in their learning.  Strong relationships with children and their families were also identified as being a strength in many ELC settings.

A common aspect for development which was highlighted was the need for settings to improve their approaches to self-evaluation and, in particular, methods for  monitoring and tracking children’s progress.  When such approaches are robust and consistently applied by all staff,  we observe children making the best possible progress  while engaged in appropriately challenging learning experiences.

In the current academic year, we have inspected a number of ELC settings. It is pleasing to observe staff engaging well with ‘How Good is Our Early Learning and Childcare?’ to support them in reflecting on and improving their practice.  In the best examples, we also see staff making use of ‘Building the Ambition’ guidance to support their self-evaluation activities.  We know that staff engage well with the case studies included in this document to help them plan for future developments.

Over this session we have also found that staff continue to ensure that they foster strong relationships with children and their families. In a few of the settings we have visited, staff have developed their understanding of attachment to support children well.  We have also noted that staff are now making more positive attempts to improve outdoor learning experiences for children.  In the best examples, we see children with regular access to high-quality outdoor learning which promotes their skills in curiosity, investigation and creativity.

It is settings’ approaches to planning and assessment that still remain areas for improvement. Children need to be more involved in talking about their own learning and progress.  By doing this, children will have increased motivation and development of key skills to support them in making continuous progress in their learning and development.

While we see staff keen to capture and document children’s progress, it is not always done in a consistently effective way.  It is important that staff are skilled in making observations of children’s learning.  It is not necessary for everything to be recorded, only those parts of learning and development that are significant for individual children.

As practitioners become more confident in documenting children’s progress, they will find they are able to plan learning better for the differing needs of the children in their care.   This will also enable practitioners to provide appropriate challenge as necessary. We are now observing children engaging better with their learning profiles and, also, staff developing new approaches to involve parents more in their child’s learning.  Parents joining their children in the playrooms for shared learning sessions is becoming a regular feature in many settings.  We look forward to seeing how staff continue to take a creative approach to involving parents in their children’s learning as we complete this year’s ELC inspections.

Using evidence to improve outcomes in secondary⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

By Carol McDonald, HM Inspector and Lead Officer for secondary inspection

Time to reflect on inspection evidence is always an interesting and key part of our work. Reviewing our findings for the recent report ‘Quality and improvement in Scottish education 2012 – 2016’ (QuISE) highlighted some important strengths in the secondary sector over a period with significant changes to the curriculum.

Inspectors appreciate the opportunity inspection offers to engage in dialogue with staff, parents, partners of the school and the young people themselves.   We learn a great deal from our discussions which informs many aspects of our work.

You can read the secondary chapter from QuISE on our website.  In secondary schools, inspectors found the curriculum in most schools evolving as new qualifications replaced old ones. Much of the work in schools focused on implementing new qualifications and increasing the range of accreditation available to young people in the senior phase.

Staff in schools recognised that to continue to improve attainment, improvements to learning pathways from S1 to S3 are required. Young people are well supported by the good relationships they enjoy with their teachers. However, too much variability was observed in the quality of learning and teaching.  Schools need to continue to work to ensure staff share a good understanding of the best features of effective practice.

Our evidence shows that schools need to use the wide range of evidence available to ensure that school improvement planning is manageable and achievable. The evidence from Insight, and from teacher’s professional judgements on the progress of young people, needs better used to inform improvement planning.

Schools are working effectively with partners to develop the young workforce using a range of innovative approaches. Senior staff in schools are using the Career Education Standard 3-18 (CES), the Work Placement Standard (WPS) and Guidance on School/Employer Partnerships as a platform to promote and develop DYW in their schools.  The use of the standards and the guidance to align and co-ordinate activity is still at an early stage.  Teaching staff, young people and employers are not yet aware of the entitlements and the expectations within the standards and guidance.

Our inspections in the current academic year show improvements in arrangements for assessing and tracking the progress of young people across all aspects of their learning. Using this evidence to implement appropriate interventions for individuals is key to improving outcomes for young people.  Collating the evidence at a department, faculty and whole school level allows staff to analyse and act upon necessary improvements.   Central to this work is the reliability of the assessment evidence.  We are seeing teachers beginning to make good use of the benchmarks to support them in this essential work.

In the best examples, schools are identifying, and taking account of, a range of features which may influence outcomes for young people. This includes factors such as being “looked after” (LAC), living in areas of social deprivation (SIMD 1 and 2) and having identified additional support requirements.  These factors need taken into account when planning learning for young people.

As staff continue to work hard in the interests of their pupils, they recognise that they are part of a wider team of adults that provide the necessary support to help young people succeed. It is good to see, and hear about, the successes of schools in improving outcomes for the young people in their community.

As we look ahead to next year’s inspections, I look forward to seeing these areas develop further, helping improve attainment for our young people.

Tackling the priorities in QuISE – a joined up approach?⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

 

By Alan Armstrong, Strategic Director

Our report ‘Quality and improvement in Scottish education 2012-2016’ (QuISE) points to five key aspects of education and practice which we believe should be priorities for improvement if all learners in Scotland are to achieve their potential. Many or all sectors of education should be:

  • exploiting fully the flexibility of Curriculum for Excellence to meet better the needs of all learners;
  • improving arrangements for assessment and tracking to provide personalised guidance and support throughout the learner journey;
  • maximising the contribution of partnerships with other services, parents and the wider community to enhance children’s and young people’s learning experiences;
  • improving further the use of self-evaluation and improvement approaches to ensure consistent high quality of provision; and
  • growing a culture of collaboration within and across establishments and services to drive innovation, sharing of practice and collective improvement.

Looking at these priorities from my perspective in ensuring the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence, the employability and skills agenda, and digital learning and teaching, I am struck by how the priorities inter-relate and, indeed, are interdependent.

The flexibility offered by CfE has the potential for schools to design their curriculum structures in ways that reflect fully the local contexts and aspirations of their learners. Within this, the range of progression pathways can then enable children and young people to make suitably brisk progress across the broad general education, and into and through the senior phase.  This needs to be informed by improved assessment and tracking to ensure teachers, learners and parents make the most appropriate decisions at the right time.

However, there is no doubt that the curriculum structures needed to make this a reality rely very strongly on the direct contributions of partners, including agencies and local employers. Collaborations amongst staff within and across schools, with colleagues in colleges, community learning and development and other areas of expertise all combine to enrich the curriculum and motivate learners.

In early learning and childcare provision, primary and secondary schools, the new curriculum area Benchmarks are beginning to support a clearer understanding of learners’ progression across the broad general education. This  will help teachers to plan the breadth, challenge and application of learning that will prepare young people for the three year learner journey of their senior phase.  And that of course involves collaborations and the wide range of qualifications across the SCQF framework, exploiting again the flexibility of CfE in preparing learners for their futures.

Partnerships are the essential element in Developing the Young Workforce. I’m becoming aware of increasingly effective approaches to employability, skills and career education, often promoted through three-ways partnerships amongst schools, colleges and employers.  And by now you’ll be seeing the connections with the other QuISE priorities of collaboration and more informed personal guidance that can help to exploit that full flexibility in CfE.

Digital learning and teaching has great potential to promote and improve partnership working and collaboration, locally, nationally and internationally. Teachers and pupils can gain significantly in learning from the innovative and effective practice of others.  Where digital is central in planning and delivering learning and teaching, and makes use of learners’ own digital skills or develops them further, I’m in no doubt that young people benefit.  Digital can and does support teachers in their tracking and monitoring, reducing bureaucracy and workload.  As digital access and digital skills continues to improve, the opportunities for leaders, practitioners and learners to take steps that address the QuISE priorities are significant.

The individual QuISE chapters on each education sector highlight good practice as well as challenges in providing high quality experiences for all. The key is often the distinct professionalism of leaders and practitioners, engaging individually and collaboratively to reflect and to make the changes that matter.

Finally, effective self-evaluation is central to ensuring continuous improvement in addressing the priorities in QuISE.   I am beginning to see schools, colleges, and community learning and development now looking beyond their own centre and working with all partners in undertaking self-evaluation and analysing evidence.  The benefit will be greater collective understanding of how effectively their curriculum, learning, teaching and assessment genuinely meet their learners’ needs.  Where that process leads to jointly agreed actions for improvement, I’m in no doubt that the learning experiences and the outcomes for all children and young people will also improve.

Improving assessment measures in primary schools⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

By Sadie Cushley, HM Inspector and Lead Officer for primary inspection

It’s been an interesting and rewarding process to review our primary inspection findings for the recent report ‘Quality and improvement in Scottish education 2012-2016’ (QuISE). In addition to that four year view, this year we have continued to observe improving practice, and this blog is a good opportunity to share some of that with you.

You can read the primary chapter from QuISE on our website. In primary schools, inspectors found that staff generally used a good range of learning and teaching approaches which enabled children to be more actively involved in their learning. Schools have taken many positive steps to develop and improve the curriculum and should build on this to meet the needs of all children.

Our evidence shows that schools now need to put in place better arrangements for assessing and tracking children’s progress, including having a shared understanding of standards within Curriculum for Excellence levels. As a priority, they should identify and address any gaps in attainment and achievement between their least and most disadvantaged children.

Our inspections continue to show that staff are working hard in most of the schools inspected to ensure that children are actively involved in their learning. Increasingly we see children less passive in their learning due to efforts made by staff to encourage children to think. A common misconception is that if children are moving around they are active in their learning.  Our strongest schools ensure children are thinking and learning during activities.

Often on inspections we can observe really strong practice in an aspect of learning in one class but not in another. It is important that staff visit other classes regularly to learn from their colleagues. A particular strength we observed in one school was where, as part of the moderation at a cluster level, staff at the same stage across the cluster planned a series of lessons to ensure consistency in standards. In addition, they observed these lessons being taught in classes providing feedback on the quality of learning and teaching. In doing this not only did they share expected standards but they achieved more consistent high quality learning and teaching.

This academic year there has been a noticeable improvement in the number of schools who now have a system to track children’s progress more effectively. In almost all schools inspected the headteacher and staff now have an overview of children’s attainment. Where this works best staff all have a clearly understood approach to assessment within their classes which is robust and informs their professional judgement.

In the strongest schools this is articulated in an assessment framework to ensure staff are clear of expectations. We have had several strong approaches to assessment in some of our inspections where staff plan assessment as they are planning their learning and teaching. Assessment is then part of the on-going work, it is less bureaucratic and there is a balance between the use of summative and formative assessment to inform staff of children’s progress.

Already we are seeing schools making good use of the benchmarks to assess children’s progress and make judgements about achieving the level. Since August we have noted some strong practice where staff and the senior management team  meet regularly to discuss the attainment of individuals and cohorts of children. In doing this, interventions are planned to raise attainment or close the gap in attainment, and previous interventions are evaluated as to their effectiveness.

A few schools inspected, in addition to having an overarching view of children’s attainment, drill down to monitor and evaluate the attainment of specific groups. For example, they look at specific cohorts such as children with English as an additional language (EAL), children who are looked after and accommodated (LAC) and children living in SIMD 1&2. This is particularly important in planning interventions to ensure the impact of pupil equity funding.

It is good to see these initiatives being implemented, and I look forward to seeing their impact on the outcomes of our primary pupils.

Confident collaboration for improvement – the legacy of QuISE?⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

by Dr Bill Maxwell, HM Chief Inspector of Education

The publication of our report on Quality and improvement in Scottish education (QuISE), ranging back over the period 2012 to 2016, has been a great opportunity to take a step back from more immediate short-term concerns and take a ‘bigger picture’ view of what has been achieved over a period of major reform which has touched every area of Scottish education.

Having launched the report, I would now encourage each education setting to read their dedicated chapter and consider it in their self-evaluation.

Of course there is already good evidence around that, as result of the professionalism and expertise of staff and of course the efforts of learners themselves, outcomes have improved over that stretch of time. National Qualification outcomes have steadily improved and the proportion of young people entering a positive destination post-school now sits at a record high. Although there is still a long way to go, we have also seen evidence of progress in beginning to close the attainment gap between pupils from the most and the least disadvantaged backgrounds.

Equally, of course, not all in the statistical garden in rosy. We have also seen some unwelcome indications that we should be concerned about the pace of progress in literacy and numeracy through the broad general education, for example, and we saw a disappointing set of PISA results for 2015.

The QuISE report, offers a distinctly different, but complementary, perspective from that which you can get by simply looking at the statistics. It provides an analysis based on first-hand observation and evaluation of the quality what is actually happening in playrooms, classrooms, lecture rooms and other educational settings throughout the country. It summarises observation and evaluation undertaken by expert professionals, HM inspectors and indeed many other associates and lay members from education sectors across the country who join our inspection teams contributing a valuable additional perspective.

Our analysis of what has emerged from that more qualitative evidence base over the last four years has led us to conclude that there are some very positive and growing strengths in the provision and practice within Scottish education. These are strengths that align directly with the ambitions of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and other related reforms.

We are seeing improvement in the quality of learning experiences, with the result that young people are increasingly well motivated, engaged and actively involved in their learning. We are seeing schools and other education settings becoming more inclusive, we are seeing a broader range of achievements being promoted and recognised, and we are seeing the impact of strong leadership, with a clear and sustained focus on raising the quality of the day-to-day learning and teaching that learners experience.

The report also sets out a set of five priority areas. This is where we believe targeted improvements in practice and provision would reap dividends in enabling us to make further progress towards meeting our collective national ambition of achieving excellence with equity for all Scottish learners. They include: exploiting more fully the flexibility of CfE; improving assessment and personal support; enhancing partnerships; strengthening approaches to self-evaluation and improvement; and growing a culture of collaborative enquiry. In all cases these go with the flow of current reforms and national strategies and in each case there are already examples of excellent practice in the system.

Taking a longer view of what has been achieved over the last few years, and thinking about where we go next, has also had quite a personal dimension for me, as I retire from the role of Chief Executive of Education Scotland this Summer. As I prepare to move on, I am convinced that the Scottish education system is well placed to make substantial progress across each of these key areas.

If I were to pick out a linking theme it would be about collective commitment across all partners in the education system to work together, to help each other, and indeed to constructively challenge each other, in ways which provide richer, more coherent, more personalised learning pathways capable of matching the needs of all our learners. Confident collaboration for improvement rather than competitive isolation should be the Scottish way, reflecting our deep national commitment to a strong education as a common public good.

Taking account of the themes in this report, and with the National Improvement Framework providing a new level of clarity and focus from national to local level, I am confident that we can rise to the challenge that the OECD left us with following their 2015 review: to make sure we achieve the potential of a progressive programme of national educational reform, by taking bold and specific action to fully realise its benefits. I hope the QuISE report helps inform discussion and debate in education settings of all types, across the whole country, about where that specific action is needed and how boldness can be ensured as it is pursued.

 

Tackling Sectarianism Resources⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

The Scottish Government and  Education Scotland are hosting the launch of a free suite of anti-sectarianism learning and teaching resources for children and young people. The launch will be opened by the Scottish Government Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Annabelle Ewing, in Stirling on the 22 Febuary 2017. Throughout the day detailed information about these resources and how they can be best deployed will be presented by a range of education practitioners. There will also be opportunities for you to explore the resources. Reserve your place.

Primary Nurturing Approaches Professional Learning Resource⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

A Primary Nurturing Approaches Professional Learning Resource has recently been completed by Education Scotland and was delivered to around 50 representatives from the 9 Challenge Authorities over 4 days in October and November 2016 as a pilot. This was an engaging and motivating 4 days and many of the representatives have begun to embed both universal nurturing approaches and targeted approaches in their schools and LAs.

The resource is being updated to incorporate the feedback of those who attended and will be run again as a 4 day course on the 23rd, and 24th of January and 20th and 21st of February 2017 in Glasgow.  There is an expectation that those who attend this training will be able to take it forward and deliver it in their own context.  Notes of interest are asked to be submitted to the following email: Anne-Marie.Lamont@educationscotland.gsi.gov.uk.  Details on the course and requirements for attending will then be sent out to all those who are interested after which interested parties will be invited to attend if they are felt to be at a stage of readiness to take the training forward in their context. Applicants can be from SAC or non-SAC contexts.