Category Archives: Early Learning and Childcare

Tackling the priorities in QuISE – a joined up approach?

 

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.

Quality and Improvement in GME

We have now published the individual chapters form the Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education report on our website, along with the full report. This report gives a review of our inspection findings for the period 2012-2016. It highlights areas of growing strength and key areas for further improvement.

 

For the first time, we have included a chapter on Gaelic Medium Education (GME) which exemplifies the growth of the sector. This chapter is available at:

 

PDF file: Gaelic Medium Education (126 KB)

 

The full report may be accessed at:

PDF file: Quality and improvement in Scottish education 2012-2016 (1.1 MB)

 

We would encourage those with responsibility for Gaelic Learner and Medium Education across sectors to engage with the report. In particular,  the findings for Gaelic and to build these into improvement planning.  Addressing these areas for improvement effectively will make a decisive contribution to achieving the twin aims of excellence and equity for Scottish learners which sits at the heart of the National Improvement Framework. For more information to support improvement, please use our Advice on Gaelic Education.

 

To keep up to date with Gaelic at Education Scotland, please visit our learning blog for Gaelic Medium Education and Gaelic Learner Education.   We also publish Briefings on Gaelic Education for which partners’ contributions are invited.

Professional Learning for Teachers of Gaelic Medium Education (GME)

Streap, is a Postgraduate Teaching Certificate for teachers of 3-18 GME. It presents an opportunity to deepen your understanding of GME, while developing further fluency in the language. The next programme begins on 4 September 2017. This programme is fully-funded by the Scottish Government. For more information, please visit:
http://www.abdn.ac.uk/education/degrees-programmes/gaelic-medium-education-pgcert-436.php
http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/gd/cursaichean/streap

Confident collaboration for improvement – the legacy of QuISE?

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.

 

Gaelic Language Enrichment Course for teachers of Gaelic Learner and Medium Education (GLE and GME)

When: 2 – 7 July 2017 and 23 – 27 July 2017

Where: South Uist

Fee: £250

Language level: Beginner to Fluent

Brief: This Gaelic Enrichment Course is a career-long professional learning opportunity for teachers of GLE and GME. The course aims to support teachers use and develop their Gaelic language skills within a community setting. The course will be tailored to the specific needs of the teachers.  It includes: conversational skills, grammar, resources for the classroom, workshops and field trips.

For more information, please contact: Ceòlas Uibhist, Taigh Gleus, Dalabrog, Uibhist a Deas HS8 5SS Tel: 01878 700154 E-mail: info@ceolas.co.uk

www.ceolas .co.uk

New Road Safety Resources

Road Safety Scotland have developed a suite of free road safety learning resources for specific age groups from 3-18 years, with a view to developing responsible road use among young people. All their resources link to Curriculum for Excellence, incorporating experiences and outcomes in health and wellbeing; literacy and English; maths and numeracy, and many other subject areas.

The resources offer different learning styles to engage teachers and learners, and make the learning appropriate, relevant and challenging at every level, and may also help maintain the important link between school and home, allowing key road safety messages to be shared throughout the wider community. You can now access the online resources through the App Library available in Glow.

Inspection Myth Busters

1Join us on Thursday 16th March at 3.45pm to find out more about the recent changes to the inspection process with our Inspection Myth Busters Glow TV event.

Over the past months Education Scotland has developed new inspection approaches, to help you understand the changes to inspection we’re holding a Glow TV event with Alastair Delaney, Director of Inspection. You can find out more about the changes to inspections and ask Alastair questions that you have surrounding this.

Register to take part live – Inspection Myth Busters

If you unable to join us for the live event you can always catch up with the recording at another time – Glow TV’s Watch Again.

Financial Education, Numeracy and Mathematics

The ability to work with numbers is an essential part of being financially capable. This has been recognised recently in a number of support materials recently published by Education Scotland. The first of these is the National Numeracy and Progression Framework. This includes a progression pathway on money (linked to the experiences and outcomes for money in Curriculum for Excellence) One of the key aspects of this framework is the concept of understanding finance in a digital world.

As well this there is also a set of benchmarks that will support teachers in assessing learning. These Benchmarks were published in August 2016 as draft documents. There is currently an online consultation which can be accessed via the National Improvement Hub. This consultation will close on 31.3.17 and the final Benchmarks will be published in June 2017.

There are many activities that will support young people’s learning across a number of different levels to ensure that financial education can provide memorable experiences and powerful messages. In a number of practical situations the following opportunities can be provided

  • budgeting
  • investigating value for money
  • deciding on costings for design and manufacture
  • discussing types of bank cards and costs involved
  • designing coins/notes – shapes, patterns, etc
  • taking part in money games
  • investigating exchange rates
  • discussing various methods of payment and costs involved
  • using tally sheets and producing graphs/pictograms
  • engaging with money transactions – different combinations of coins and notes
  • comparing prices
  • using Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and other ‘money’ machines
  • calculating profit/loss

In addition to this engaging with numeracy and mathematics helps young people make the jump from dealing with concrete examples to the much more abstract nature of ‘money in the digital age’.