During January the Education World Forum took place in London, and this year included a strong contribution from Scottish education.
Our own Alan Armstrong was there as part of the Scottish delegation at the forum and Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, provided an important key note speech highlighting recent developments in Scottish education and new policies for developing skills for life.
To follow on from this event, we joined with the British Council and issued an invitation to delegates from a number of our national priority countries, inviting them to visit Scotland following their attendance at the World Education Forum.
We expected a small group of Ministers and senior officials to respond to the invitation to join us on January 21/22 for an overview of Scottish education, but you can imagine our delight (shock and panic) when over 40 senior government and educationalists from across India and Pakistan decided to come along.
There were colleagues from Telegana, and Andhra Pradesh in India, as well as from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan.
Education Scotland worked closely with British Council Scotland, and the international team set to work planning for the visit.
We held a joint reception for the delegation on Thursday 21 January at the British Council (Scotland) offices in Edinburgh. Dr Allan, Minister for Learning, Sciences and Scotland’s Languages provided a warm welcome for the group to Scotland, while Dr Bill Maxwell provided an overview of Scottish education.
Many from across the Scottish education community attended, with lively discussion and networking taking place throughout the evening, and guests were treated to a selection of delicious Indian cuisine.
Delegates were particularly keen on finding out more from Education Scotland about the wider skills and employability agenda, especially the work taking place in Scottish education on STEM and the links between science and technology. Self-evaluation and improvement through inspection was also a hot topic of conversation throughout the evening.
To give delegates the opportunity to see Scottish education in action, we organised visits to educational establishments across Scotland. As the delegation was keen to explore the links between schools and colleges, their Scottish experience included visiting colleges in Broxburn and Ayr (agriculture and aeronautics) and a school in Murieston to look at their work on the ‘Connecting Classrooms’ project.
This project appealed to the delegation as they wanted to look at ways of increasing school-to-school partnerships with the support of the British Council. The visit was valuable for both groups who exchanged ideas and curricular approaches as well as sharing information on their respective countries and ways of life.
The delegates were then treated to fashion show and civic reception in Paisley to round off their trip.
The Scottish Government has also renewed its partnership agreement with India and for the first time education across early years, schools and colleges will be included. While we at Education Scotland are looking to establish an educational partnership with colleagues in Telegana and Andre Pradesh to exchange skills and knowledge.
We will provide further updates on the next phase of this partnership working which promises to be equally exciting.