June is almost over and the school year is coming to an end. I can hardly believe that a year has passed since I took up post as Acting Head of Education for a period of 3 months and here we are a year on. It has been quite a year and there have been many challenges but also a great deal of successes too. I continue to be very proud of Argyll and Bute Education Service and all the staff who do so much for all our young people. One of the highlights of the year have been meeting with the staff and understanding their challenges and sharing in their achievements too.
Earlier this month I was lucky to join some of the P1 teachers who were all attending a training event looking at transition and the pedagogical approaches to benefit all P1’s as they move from Pre 5 to P1. The day was led by Alice Sharp from Experiential Play and our own Education Officer Kathleen Johnston. A key part of the day was looking at how to use the new Early Years Learning and Development resource. The resource gives clear progression pathways across the early level to ensure that a sure foundation for learning is in place. One of the key objectives of Our Children, Their Future is to ‘Ensure Children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed’. The resource has been developed by the Early Years Team to help deliver this objective.
Another important event that I attended was joining the showcase event for this year’s PGDE students who have just completed their study with UHI at the Argyll College campus in Oban. I was very interested to review their enquiry projects. Some very interesting topics covered including outdoor learning, positive behaviour strategies and the use of music on behaviour. The work carried out this year has been first class and the tutor Caroline Boyle has been very impressed with this cohort which bores well for the future of Education in Argyll and Bute.
On the 13th of June we welcomed the newly qualified teachers who will be joining us in session 2017/18 as probationers. This year’s cohort have had an initial welcome day and I was delighted to be able to given them a formal welcome to our Authority. I have done this now for several years and it is always a really important and special welcome for me to undertake. It is such a privilege to see the world of education through the eyes of our brand new teachers. As the year moves forward I will be touching base with this new cohort to see how they are developing and how we can support them in their first year of teaching.
In the past two weeks I have been leading the interview process for Head Teacher posts across our Authority both in Primary, Secondary and 3-18 Schools. It is a very important task and to ensure that each school community has a perfect fit with a leader who will take forward the school in its community. Rural schools bring the support of the community which can be a real asset for Head Teachers but it also can mean a real level of scrutiny which isn’t seen in more urban schools. Many of our Head Teachers are moving on to a brand new life of retirement and have given a lifetime service to our young people. I wish Cathleen Russell from Toward and Innellan Primaries, Geoff Urie from Hermitage Academy, Fiona Johnston from Kilmartin and Achahoish Primaries and Sine MacVicar from Dunbeg all the very best for this next part of their lives. I have been delighted to see Sine’s career being acknowledged in the Scottish Education Awards and the TES Awards by being awarded the lifetime Achievement awards.
The central education team are also looking to losing two members who are joining the retirement team. Fiona Johnston and John MacPherson will be retiring at the end of term. I wish them both well and hope they can enjoy time for themselves and their families.
Our staff are our greatest asset and another key objective in Our Children, Their Future is to ‘Strengthen leadership at all levels’. So to all our staff I wish you a very happy holiday when it arrives and an enormous thanks for the incredible commitment to ensuring that education in Argyll and Bute is improving and our young people get a good deal.