Get pupils excited about reading with Book Trailers

Creating Book Trailers is a fantastic way to enthuse your learners about reading and develop their critical skills. This year, Scottish Book Trust are running our first ever book trailer competition for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards, and have published a wealth of resources to help you get creative with trailers. Closing date for entries is February 7.

Make your pupils’ voices heard in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards

Every year thousands of children of all ages vote for their favourite book in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards. Why not get them writing reviews of the books to help them make their decision? Our review competition is a great opportunity to win some fabulous prizes, including book tokens and a visit from one of the shortlisted authors. You can find more details in the Get Involved section of SCBA. Closing date for entries is February 7.

Scottish Education Awards 2014

Nominations for the 2014 awards are now open, visit the Scottish Education Awards website for more information and to submit your nomination.

The Awards celebrate the hard work and success in Scottish education. They recognise the achievements of people who dedicate their lives to children and young people and showcase the value work and innovation in learning environments across Scotland.

There are 15 categories including new categories for Creative Learning, Innovation in Literacy and Numeracy and 2014 Commonwealth Games – Games Legacy Awards.

If you know of a school or teacher that deserves to be recognised for their hard work let us know and submit a nomination today. Nominations must be submitted by Friday 21 February 2014.

Game on Scotland – Maths and Numeracy

How can Game On Scotland support your planning in numeracy and mathematics?

Looking for inspiration for IDL projects to develop numeracy and mathematics in the context?

In this ‘Game On’ Glow session, we will spend time exploring what the Game On Scotland website has to offer to support your planning.

For the rest of the session, we will be joined by the Glasgow 2014 team, talking about numeracy challenges they have faced and setting two challenges for you to explore with your learners.

Join the Numeracy and Mathematics team for this exciting problem solving Glow meet on Tuesday 7th January at 4pm – sign up and join us in Glow TV.

Show Racism the Red Card Creative Competition

2013/2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the annual Show Racism the Red Card’s Anti-Racism/Anti-Sectarianism Creative Competition in Scotland. The Creative Competition is an integral part of the Show Racism the Red Card’s work in Scotland and has become a central feature in the calendar with almost 1 in 5 of Scotland’s schools having participated in the competition. Entries are welcome from both individuals as well as class groups and the closing date for all entries is Friday 31 January 2014.

To enter, school and college students must develop a piece of creative work that gets across loud and clear the important message that racism and/or sectarianism is not welcome in Scotland. This could be artwork, poetry, a short story, creative writing, music, a dance/drama performance, research project or multimedia presentation.

Competition winners will be invited to a star-studded award ceremony at Hampden Park in March, attended by the elite of Scottish football, to receive public acclaim for their work and receive their prizes.

For further information, please visit the Show Racism the Red Card Scotland website.

Power cuts and flooding after gales hit west coast. Are you Ready for Emergencies?

Severe weather has caused disruption through utility failures and signifiant flooding in various areas throughout Scotland.

Winds of up to 90 mph hit parts of the country last night causing power cuts, rough seas and heavy swells. Those regions partcularly badly affected include Glasgow, Aberdeen, the Western Isles, Shetland, Orkney and Dumfries and Galloway among others.

For further details go to:

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has been issuing regular flood warnings urging the public to take immediate action against the predicted flooding.

The ‘Ready for Emergencies’ website contains free teaching resources to help young people and their local commuitites to prepare and cope in extreme weather situations like these. For severe weather learning journeys go to:

Make sure you are signed up for SEPA’s free flood alert service. Register at:

Expressive Arts Conversation Day 1

The first Expressive Arts Conversation Day was held on 25th November 2013 at the Raploch Community Campus in Stirling. The event featured several stimulating practitioner inputs and lively discussion throughout.

The attached document is a collated record of the Implemento table discussion, which was designed to provide starting points for actions to address the key issue of the day – building practitioner confidence and capacity in relation to expressive arts:  Expressive Arts Implemento Session

The main themes we explored (identified during the morning session) were:

• Developing appropriate expressive arts CPD
• Providing appropriate support
• Developing an effective model that balances creative space with skills development
• Creating sustainable partnerships

If visitors to the site have further thoughts or ideas with regard to the issues raised/omitted from the initial conversation please use the blog to share them with colleagues across the country.

Working groups are currently being created to explore the actions suggested/required to take forward the themes listed above and also to identify further actions specific to each area of the expressive arts across all sectors.

Education Scotland will add information to the blog about progress in our partnership with primary colleagues to create and support a national expressive arts primary network. From the responses to the questions in the afternoon session, and to evaluation questions, it certainly seems the idea of a national network is one practitioners and education partners would endorse and support. The collated responses from the afternoon session about the networks are attached below:

National network responses

A second Expressive Arts Conversation Day is in the planning phase and we intend that it will probably take place in Inverness in February or early March to provide greater opportunity for our colleagues from further afield to attend. Once again, this information will be added to the blog.

You are welcome to contact me or any member of the team if there are aspects of expressive arts in general you wish to discuss in greater detail or examples of innovative practice you feel Education Scotland should see.

We look forward to continuing the conversation with you …

Magnificent Microbes

What is the Magnificent Microbes project?

The Magnificent Microbes project is a joint venture between the College of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee and Dundee Science Centre Science Learning Institute.  The project, run in 2010 and 2012, has been received very positively by children and teachers alike, being described as “exciting”, “inspiring”, “a great way to understand more about microbes”. Teachers described the impact on children’s learning, and enthusiasm for science as a result of taking part. Participation provided teachers with opportunities for professional learning which had built capacity and improved their knowledge, understanding and confidence in learning around the Body Systems and Cells organiser within Curriculum for Excellence.

The project includes:

–       pre-visit activity (supporting literacy)

–       visit to Dundee Science Centre to participate in Magnificent Microbes day (themes: hands-on science, positive role models, cutting-edge research on the doorstep)

–       post-visit learning (supporting, literacy, numeracy and encouraging creativity)

–       post-visit opportunities to have scientists visiting the school

–       Celebration Day (sharing learning, supporting literacy)

–       display of children’s learning about Magnificent Microbes in the Prism at Dundee Science Centre in May / June 2014

Where does the Magnificent Microbes project fit within Curriculum for Excellence?

“At second level (SCN 2-13a), through practical activities carried out in a safe environment, learners can explore examples of microorganisms that are beneficial and harmful e.g. the use of yeast in bread making and the importance of bacteria and fungus in the breakdown of waste in compost columns. This can be further developed… to include practical activities to safely test for the presence of microorganisms in the local environment. The effects on growth of microorganisms of a variety of factors, such as temperature and disinfectants, can also be investigated. This leads on to the exploration of the use of microorganisms and enzymes in industry at fourth level.”

Education Scotland (2009) Concept development in the sciences paper

“Through research and discussion I have an appreciation of the contribution that individuals are making to scientific discovery and invention, and the impact this has made on society”

Education Scotland (2009) Curriculum for excellence: sciences experiences and outcomes

Participation in the Magnificent Microbes project supports development of the capacities of Curriculum for Excellence:

Successful learners

Attributes: enthusiasm and motivation for learning; openness to new thinking and ideas

Capabilities: use literacy, numeracy and communication skills; think creatively and independently

Responsible citizens

Attributes: respect for others

Capabilities: develop knowledge and understanding of the world and Scotland’s place in it; evaluate environmental scientific and technological issues

Effective contributors

Attributes: resilience

Capabilities: communicate in different ways and in different settings; work in partnerships and teams; create and develop.

Involvement in the project includes starter activities for use with learners, prior to the class to Dundee Science Centre. The project will be completed in the classroom following the Magnificent Microbes day in March 2014. These activities have been designed to be used flexibly, to ensure that they can be used to meet the needs of children in their own context, and to develop skills in literacy and numeracy appropriate to second level.

Literacy across learning

Participation in the project provides opportunities for learners to developing literacy skills through:

  • explaining their thinking to others (Listening and talking for learning, Literacy across learning: principles and practice);
  • finding, selecting, sorting, summarising and linking information  from a variety of sources  (Reading for learning, Literacy across learning: principles and practice);
  • making notes, developing ideas and acknowledging sources within written work, and developing and using effective vocabulary (Writing for learning, Literacy across learning: principles and practice).

Creativity in Sciences

After the visit

Within the class, we would like the children to create a piece which represents and communicates their learning.  Scientists from the University of Dundee would be delighted to come to each school to talk about this with the children. This provides the opportunity for learners to share their thinking and use others’ contributions to build on thinking.

From each participating class we would invite the children who created the work(s) to join us, with their teacher(s) and their families, at a Magnificent Microbes Learning Celebration at the College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee.

Numeracy in sciences

 “Having discussed the variety of ways and range of media used to present data, I can interpret and draw conclusions from the information displayed, recognising that the presentation may be misleading.

I have carried out investigations and surveys, devising and using a variety of methods to gather information and have worked with others to collate, organise and communicate the results in an appropriate way.”

Education Scotland (2007) Curriculum for excellence: numeracy and mathematics experiences and outcomes

At second level learners have an extended range of presentation methods, including bar and line graphs, from which they can select the most appropriate for presenting the data/information they have collected.  They identify the relationship between the variables and use this to draw an appropriate conclusion, consistent with the findings.

Education Scotland (2013) Assessing Progress and Achievement in the Broad General Education in Sciences

After the visit

Within ten days of the visit, we will send a photograph for each child of the microbe growth from their hands. We would ask the children to carry out a class survey and select the most appropriate method for presenting their data / information from which they can consider whether or not it is possible to draw any conclusions about gender differences in microbe growth. This activity provides opportunities to develop numeracy through appropriate interpretation of numerical information, using it to draw conclusions and make reasoned evaluations.

Celebrating learning

At the Magnificent Microbes Learning Celebration at the University of Dundee, the team from Dundee Science Centre and the scientists and researchers involved with the project will be joined by children from all of the classes participating in the project. We will use the children’s work to create a display about their learning. At this celebration, the children will have the opportunity to explain to the scientists at the University of Dundee what their work shows, why they have chosen to do the work as they have done, and why they chose that particular aspect of the learning. Through this, they will have the opportunity to organise their ideas in an appropriate way for the purpose, using suitable vocabulary for their audience.

Sharing their work with a wider audience

Following the Celebration Day, we will use the display created as an exhibit in the Prism of Dundee Science Centre, for families, visitors and other school groups to see. The children’s microbe sample images, along with samples from members of the public will also be included as part of the display. We hope this display will help others learn about Magnificent Microbes and be inspired to learn more!

What does participation involve?


4 February 2014 Project familiarisation: meet the team and find out more about the hands-on activities in the project
14 March 2014 Schools visit Dundee Science Centre
21 March 2014 Schools receive microbe handprints from University of Dundee
21- 25 April 2014 Researchers from University of Dundee visit schools (optional)
25 April 2014 Schools to return data presentations on microbe growth to University of Dundee
25 April 2014 Children to select who to represent their class at the Learning Celebration
6 May 2014 Learning Celebration at University of Dundee
9 May 2014 Deadline for return of teacher evaluations

How many children, classes and schools can be involved?

We have capacity to include 180 – 210 children in the project. The participation cost of the project per child is £50. Of this cost, the University of Dundee and Dundee Science Centre have sought funding to cover more than 90%. The participation cost is therefore £3.50 per child. For children attending schools in Dundee City Council, funding is available to support this participation cost.

Where Scottish Government funding is available to support travel, we will provide a travel subsidy to cover the full cost of transport. This is determined by criteria set by the Scottish Government.

Interested? Get in touch

Sciences Conversation Day 2

Following the publication of the 3-18 Curriculum Impact Report for Sciences in September 2012 Education Scotland hosted a series of conversations to engage stakeholders in discussions around the findings of the report and to collectively identify priorities for action to secure improvements in science education nationally.

The second sciences conversation day took place in Bishopbriggs Academy, East Dunbartonshire and brought together around 25 participants from a wide variety of sectors.

Contexts for discussion included

  • recognising the importance of  Sciences, Technologies, Engineering and Maths (STEM) to the Scottish economy,
  • appreciating the need to look beyond the economic picture to the importance of scientific literacy for young people in an increasingly fast-paced and technological society
  • recognising STEM  as a key area within Curriculum for Excellence (CfE)
  • SSEAG Report (Science and Engineering Education Advisory Group) published February 2012 and the Government response, October 2012
  • why this could be considered a ‘Time of Opportunity’ for improving science education nationally

Delegates discussed the key priorities for sciences education focussed around four themes:

  1. Equity in education – science for all
  2. The importance of planning across school clusters
  3. Career long professional learning and support for practitioners
  4. Partnerships

This post will address the first point, Equity in Education. The remaining key priorities will be highlighted in forthcoming posts.

Equity in education – science for all

It was recognised that there had been many initiatives and significant funding provided over the last few decades to make education more equitable but little progress had been made.

The discussion generated views that

  • A different perspective was required to close the attainment gap particularly for those from the most deprived background.
  • Science education is about promoting scientific literacy for all, preparing learners for STEM careers and inspiring all learners – not just those who intend to pursue science at university level.
  • The language of learning needs to be explained to parents to help them appreciate the importance of STEM – Bishopbriggs Academy has run open evenings for parents to engage them in the school science programme.
  • The broad general education (especially early years and primary) should be a priority since this is where all learners have the biggest exposure to science.
  • More than one career pathway is available – not just school, further study then work. Many STEM careers are at Technician 3 Level – degrees are not the only way. Awareness of this must be promoted.
  • Science should be seen as a skill for life.
  • Initial teacher education (ITE) establishments have introduced concurrent degrees – more primary teachers will have the opportunity to study STEM subjects at undergraduate level but there are timetabling issues to be addressed to enable student teachers to access courses in other faculties.
  • Good science coordinators in local authorities play an essential role in brokering effective links between schools and between schools and partners.

If we are to attract greater number of learners into STEM, gender bias within subjects, such as the prevalence of boys in Physics, must be addressed. There must be consideration given to the influence of female teachers, positive role models for learners choosing science (from industry and HE) and misunderstanding the subject and maths connection, which may put some learners off.

Education Scotland is keen to hear your views about the report and its findings. Visit the Talk with us blog to share your thoughts.

Dancing for diversity!

Education Scotland is taking forward capacity building activities to promote diversity and equality. At the end of November we held a very successful national conference on this in Glasgow, which was attended by over 150 participants.

The agenda included 13 workshops of best practice in eliminating discrimination, advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations; several displays and stalls; an update from Education Scotland; and a keynote address from the Minister for Learning Dr Alasdair Allan, welcomed and introduced by Mary Hoey.

David Watt, Lead Officer for Diversity and Equality in Education Scotland said, ‘The day proved a great success for all who attended. Education Scotland was very pleased with the quality of the workshops and the tremendous range of equality issues featuring across the 13 workshops from early years to further education. Education Scotland’s corporate plan sets out our aim of eradicating inequity. The workshop presenters promoted the set of inclusive practices that contribute to this aim’.

Stalls exhibited materials from a number of our key groups such as Black and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure in Scotland (BEMIS), Scottish Traveller Education Programme (STEP) who act on behalf of Gypsies and Travellers, EIS Equalities Committee, Show Racism the Red Card and Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Highlights of the conference included children and young people giving their views of how they are successfully gaining the capacities of Curriculum for Excellence in the context of promoting diversity and equality. Young people from Bellahouston Academy set out a wide range of peer support, children from St Stephen’s Primary mentioned their pride in their International Day, children from Thorntree Primary highlighted the positive contribution they make as children of Showpeople and young people from Broxburn highlighted how they educated the educators about LGBT issues in their community.

As well as the children and young people contributing, delegates were able to choose from a truly diverse set of workshops from early years to colleges and communities. St Peter’s Primary Early Years staff shared their practice in working with the Polish community in Edinburgh and workshops from staff and students from further education mapped out their successes with learners who benefitted from more chances in their education. Bridging the Gap from Glasgow indicated their work with its underlying consideration of social justice in the south side of Glasgow. Kyle Academy staff and partners showed the impact in closing the gap and reducing the effect of inequalities. Grange Academy spoke and signed their approaches to inclusive practices for diverse groups of learners including young people who are deaf. Our conference was accessed by a number of participants through the provision of BSL interpreters.

As well as workshops delegates were treated to the dance performance from young people from Pilrig Park School in Leith. The young people’s enthusiasm, grace, intensity and pride was evident in their performance which was around the theme of Children’s Rights. They danced the dance of putting Children’s Rights into action! Their next show in June in the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh will draw inspiration from the Commonwealth Games.

Evaluations and tweets from participants were very positive and many commented that they looked forward to the next event.

Sciences Conversation Day 3

Delegates attending our third conversation day at Millburn Academy were asked to reflect on the findings of Education Scotland’s Sciences 3-18 Curriculum Impact Report and, through group discussion, identify what they saw as the key priorities for action.

In the final session of the conversation day participants were encouraged to write down ideas and suggestions as to how science education could be further improved nationally. Suggestions included:

  • Resources – Raise awareness of support and resources available from external partners to support and enhance science learning and teaching in schools and how to access these. Create a cohesive bank of locally and nationally available resources including easy-share resources, equipment, ideas and teaching materials
  • Industry links – Supporting teachers to make industry links – identify particular areas of the curriculum where industry could input
  • Rural outreach – Support outreach by science education providers such as science centres, Edinburgh Zoo etc. to remote and rural communities to deliver and facilitate programmes. Financial support would be required for this
  • Assessment – A continuum of assessing and moderation in relation to significant aspects of learning
  • Skills – Progression of skills for life, and thinking skills, for 3-18 in context of the sciences e.g. investigation, fair tests and no gaps in first level Es and Os. Looking at progressive methods to build up skills – models from various schools/authorities to view and discuss. Need to explore more opportunities for embedding higher order thinking skills and ways to evaluate the pupil/staff recognition of their learning in the broadest sense
  • Exemplification – a clear, easily-searchable database of good practice is required which is regularly updated. Include pupil-voice section
  • Local authorities – Education Scotland should promote and support professional learning communities within authorities. If science is a national priority, funding should reflect that to ensure all authorities have a science QIO to increase teacher confidence, help moderation, sharing and development of practice etc.
  • Pupil voice and citizenship – discovering “pupil voice” as a meaningful constructive tool in improving learning. Develop Informed participation – recognising right to learn in United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Valuing wider learning also. Take on board message from young people about problems. Focus on citizenship
  • Time/Finance to help make science a national priority – Scottish Government should support this financially to take science forward. Financial input should also be sought from sponsorship from public/private sectors to invest in in the future of STEM.
  • High quality CPD programme for practitioners which is not generic but science specific and accredited. SSERC do a fantastic job but we need more info about available courses as we don’t all know what’s available – what about a central info point? We need access to web -based learning resources through Education Scotland courses. Need to support teachers in a coordinated way to develop skills, resources, links, assessment methods…
  • Public engagement – need outreach programmes involving all stakeholders in activities that are science based e.g. parents invited in to take part with their pupils
  • Sharing – we need a good way to share expertise, (written and physical) resources and course materials across Scotland with feedback inbuilt into the system. For instance, need a feedback mechanism built into the NQ Glow site so schools and authorities can improve their materials. Need more collaborative working. Develop primary as well as secondary science sharing.
  • Education Scotland – need to simplify the quantity of advice on its websites and make sure that new glow is user friendly. Also, should ask the whole science profession via survey monkey about views on improving science education
  • National qualifications – Can we have clear, agreed timings for Nat 4 and Nat 5 courses please! Can we have guidance on how teachers are to deliver Nat 3/4/5 in the same class? Sadly, this is the reality in our school.
  • Science in the news blog page – items in news, press releases are good to use in lessons but access to a ‘schools version’ on Education Scotland website would be a huge benefit. This would need good links between Education Scotland and industry. Visits to schools are not always possible and there is regular items in the news that can be used as a hook for learning.
  • More choice – access to wider range of courses through online resources to improve choice and access for learners. Being aware that one size doesn’t fit all.
  • Remove layers of bureaucracy! Decide what can go to create space we need.

STEM North of Scotland – web links to resources and programmes available for schools in the North of Scotland provided by Pat Kieran, STEM Ambassador who participated in the conversation day.

Education Scotland is keen to hear your views. Click on the title of this blog post to leave a comment

Sciences Conversation Day 3

Delegates attending our third conversation day at Millburn Academy were asked to reflect on the findings of Education Scotland’s Sciences 3-18 Curriculum Impact Report and, through group discussion, identify what they saw as the key priorities for action.

In the second session of the day, participants were given the opportunity to use the Implemento planning tool to further explore one of the main themes emerging from the group activity in the morning. The following action was chosen as focus for this activity:

Ensure learners are empowered to determine how they learn.

Participants identified the following as the worst outcomes that could arise should this action not be implemented:

  • The status quo persists
  • Negativity and lack of motivation coupled with poor behaviour – time and opportunities are wasted and learners don’t enjoy or value science and are not given a choice in their learning. Don’t develop as global citizens
  • No aims/goals resulting in learners not achieving their potential and schools failing to raise attainment and ensure progression
  • Disillusioned students and teachers coupled with detrimental effect on health and well-being
  • Learners are disengaged and lack independence and are wholly dependent on quality and enthusiasm of the teachers. See science as not being relevant to them and take no responsibility for their learning! Maybe then not accountable either and learners become unable to make informed choices
  • Sausage machine approach to learning – one size fits all
  • Learners don’t develop necessary skills for leaning life and work resulting in national skill shortage – learners not opting for STEM career. Advances in technology may be slower and economy suffers. Society becomes more divided.
  • Unsuitable tertiary courses.

The following actions were suggested to help recover from these negatives outcomes:

  • Create courses that are relevant and interesting to pupils – learners need flexibility and choice to experience all types of learning in order to know what they’re good at
  • To ensure learners are empowered to determine how they learn, participation in planning learning must be structured and iterative. Needs to be part of constant cycle of improvement. Supporting pupils to make choices is necessary – building their capacity so they are aware of their skills and can identify next steps in learning. Need to create opportunity for choice e.g. research questions, how to present, peer tutors, methods of gathering info and so on
  • Teachers need training in order to offer these opportunities and are updated with current/real life science so that it is relevant. They must deliver on promises of learner engagement and be honest with what is possible
  • Negotiated and competence-based assessment is required as are more opportunities for collaborative learning
  • Use role models to show case relevant use of science
  • The John Muir Award offer learners a flexible approach to learning
  • Speak to wider community/customer about what they need/want to learn
  • Provide further opportunities to get back to education in later life (more advice/awareness).

Participants saw the following as the best possible outcomes of the action to empower learners:

  • Highly professional, confident teaching workforce able to maximise potential of empowered learners by guiding/facilitating learning rather than being the centre of attention
  • Less stress and more positive classroom ethos. More time spent learning resulting in better progress, achievement, attainment and results! Balanced partnership between teachers and pupils with ethos of mutual respect
  • Relevant, useful learning at school resulting in improved health and wellbeing, better community links and spirit and more parent helpers.
  • Systematic approach to offering professional learning opportunities to school science educators at all levels supported by the appointment of a science officer for every authority
  • Aspirational students with tools to get there. Pupils would know more about how they learn best as individuals. Every learner values themselves and their skills/abilities. And develops as responsible and independent citizens who are lifelong learners with a positive, can-do attitude.
  • Scotland will be globally competitive with a skilled workforce which brings inward investment and creates new business. There will be less unemployment with better prospects and equity in society
  • More flexible resources and approaches to learning (incl. online resources) with an increase in peer support across the school.

Education Scotland is keen to hear your views. Click on the title of this blog post to leave a comment.

Sciences Conversation Day 3

Delegates attending our third conversation day at Millburn Academy were asked to reflect on the findings of Education Scotland’s Sciences 3-18 Curriculum Impact Report and, through group discussion, identify what they saw as the key priorities for action.

Priority areas for action

The priorities below are listed in order of prevalence. Those mentioned more frequently in group responses appear closest to the top of the list.

  1. 1. Cluster approach – Local cluster science improvement plans should be developed – early years/primary/secondary school links, including links with further and higher education institutions, should be further developed to allow staff access to specialist equipment and expertise and to facilitate dialogue between practitioners.
  2. Primary science – There is a lack of specialist knowledge in primary schools. There is a need to increase access to and quantity of science learning pre-secondary by building confidence of primary practitioners. Science should be made explicit in primary schools – not just taught through interdisciplinary learning. There is a role for science champions in primary.
  3. Transitions between early years, primary and secondary and into work/FE/HE need to be improved. There should be planned progression through increased dialogue within and between centres and clear maps of learning and contexts.
  4. Leadership for sciences within schools at every level, including learners, should be developed to ensure support is in place and to facilitate good communication.
  5. Pupil voice should be strengthened at departmental and whole school level – the experiences of learners, and their involvement in decision-making, can be used to drive improvement. There is a need to develop a culture of talking to learners and including them in evaluation of learning. Facilitation of informal feedback should be encouraged and programmes of learning should be explained to learners.
  6. Better and more accessible links with industry, including STEM ambassadors, are required – it is essential to secure the involvement of people with real experience of STEM subjects. A coherent approach, and mapping process, is required to pull together different agencies and employers to ensure support structures are in place and to make young people aware of job opportunities.
  7. Learning and teaching in sciences needs to be dynamic and up to date so that learners understand the relevance and applications of their learning. More outdoor learning and interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary learning (IDL) should be encouraged to put science into context. There should be consistency in terms of the provision of high quality learning and teaching in sciences.
  8. Increased opportunities for science related career-long professional development, including through initial teacher education, should be made available to develop enthusiastic, confident and skilled practitioners who employ effective teaching strategies.
  9. Resources – Practitioners need to know about the resources out there. Funding to local authorities and partner agencies should be prioritised to ensure all centres are well equipped. Effective dissemination of available resources is required including online resources, outdoor spaces for learning etc. Education Scotland should consider developing a resource bank with download log and feedback.
  10. Practitioners would benefit from increased sharing of good practice at all stages.
  11. Skills – There is a need to improve knowledge and expectations in terms of wider skills development.
  12. Science a priority – Raising the awareness of education leaders, directors of education, head teachers, councillors of the importance of science is necessary. They should all recognise that science and STEM is a priority.

Education Scotland is keen to hear your views. Click on the title of this blog post to leave a comment.

Sciences Conversation Day 2

Delegates attending our second conversation day at Bishopbriggs Academy identified four priority theme for sciences:

  1. Equity in education – science for all
  2. The importance of planning across school clusters
  3. Career long professional learning and support for practitioners
  4. Partnerships

Education Scotland is keen to hear your views regarding the third priority which addressed career long professional learning and support for practitioners.

Delegates viewed that:

  • More emphasis needs to be placed on recognition of lifelong learning for all practitioners:
    • Need to provide support from FE, HE and industry
    • There should be a clear opportunity for teachers to extend learning to master’s-level
    • Drawing together of HE and other organisations to facilitate a move towards accreditation.
  • Specialist support for teachers may be of benefit – potentially in the form of a visiting specialist.  Children age 9 + would be appropriate target audience.
  • There is often an artificial connection between formal and informal science education – and a recognition that the structured/rigid way which science is taught in secondary schools needs to change to reflect the realities of the wider world.
  • Promoting science in the classroom is not solely about teaching resources – teaching method (pedagogy) and leadership are key to success:
    • Need to ensure that there is a focus on STEM skills, rather than just content
    • Role of interdisciplinary learning is important – Bishopbriggs Academy has been undertaking an interdisciplinary project on the Commonwealth Games which connected with science learning.
  • Initial Teacher Education has to recognise importance of STEM specialism – primary schools need access to teacher specialism
  • Important to influence the work of the National Implementation Board to ensure needs of education system in relation to sciences are met
  • Need to ensure that newly qualified teachers (NQTs) have appropriate level of support to ensure their practice aligns to principles of CfE
  • Teacher support in sciences:
    • How does a leader create an environment for a practitioner to thrive?
    • Need to involve learners in prioritising improvements
    • We need to move away from tick box approach in identifying outcomes.
  • Practitioners in primary schools are mostly not science graduates but the question was raised whether practitioners need a science background to be able to teach science effectively?
  • CLPL in science needs to be targeted at all staff – not single practitioners.

 Education Scotland is keen to hear your views. Click on the title of this blog post to leave a comment.

Sciences Conversation Day 2

Delegates attending our second conversation day at Bishopbriggs Academy identified four priority theme for sciences:

  1. Equity in education – science for all
  2. The importance of planning across school clusters
  3. Career long professional learning and support for practitioners
  4. Partnerships

Education Scotland is keen to hear your views regarding the second priority which addressed the importance of planning across school clusters.

Delegates saw cluster working as being important for a number of reasons:

  • It is a key way of ensuring primary and secondary colleagues can learn from each other, and also build an understanding of learning and expectations for learners in each sector
  • It provides opportunities to support the professional development of practitioners
  • Issue of priorities – will clusters have science on their list of subjects to cover?
  • Pressures of resource and time to establish and continue effective clusters.  Teacher cover can be an issue, despite local authorities provide funds to pay
  • Need to give teachers adequate time for professional learning. Could an allocation be offered for a ‘block’ of cover for science?
  • Stronger cluster work could help address lack of consistency in primary experiences across a local authority – benefits for secondary in terms of ensuring good pupil progression.

 Primary and primary/secondary transition should be seen as a priority for cluster working:

  • STEM needs to be on school improvement plans
  • Will see benefits for learners once they reach secondary school in terms of seamless transition/progression
  • We need to avoid the fresh start approach in secondary schools – a greater focus on transition and progression is required
  • More time is required for secondary teachers teaching S1 secondary classes to work with primary counterparts
  • How can we encourage schools to use exemplification, and build on what is already being done?
  • Pressures of asking primary schools to take on development of all subjects
  • Signposting of support needed – what’s the best use of school funds and time?
  • Important to ensure smooth transitions, not just from primary to secondary, but also beyond school education into HE/FE or work.

 Education Scotland is keen to hear your views. Click on the title of this blog post to leave a comment.

Physical Activity & Health Alliance Awards

PAHA is delighted to announce that the Physical Activity and Health Alliance Awards are being offered for a fourth year.

We are seeking nominations for physical activity programmes from your setting, sector and profession.

NHS Health Scotland is committed to sharing practice that improves health and reduces health inequalities across Scotland. More specifically, the Physical Activity and Health Alliance (PAHA) is focused on supporting the ongoing implementation of the National Physical Activity strategy ‘Let’s Make Scotland More Active’ (2003) and encouraging others to embed inequalities into their work.

PAHA are seeking nominations of physical activity programmes from a range of settings, sectors and professions in Scotland.  This is the opportunity to raise the profile of local work, as well as help build capacity by sharing inspirational practice and experiences with others.

The awards will be celebrated at the Annual National PAHA Conference on 24 April 2014.  Award winners will be given the opportunity to hold a stall at the marketplace of the Annual National Conference and will also feature as case studies on the case study section of the PAHA website.

This year, there are 6 categories covering the broad range of people, activities and environments pertinent to physical activity in Scotland.

  • Community Wide Programmes
  • NHS Scotland
  • Education
  • Active Travel & Planning
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Physical Activity Awareness

Anyone can nominate a person, programme or organisation for a PAHA Award.  The nomination form and supporting guidance note can be found on the PAHA website.

If you have any questions, send us email at or call us on: 0131 313 7527

All nominations must be received by noon 20 December 2013 (noon).

Scotland’s Environment Web Competition – extended entry

Scotland’s Environment Web is running an exciting competition for young people, with fantastic prizes, and the closing date for entries has now been extended until 31st March 2014.

What is the competition about?

What needs to change in your local community that will make a difference to your environment and what role can you play in making it happen?

We want you to answer the question above. Tell us how you could make your environment better. Planet Earth faces tough environmental challenges which will directly impact your future. Everyone can be a part of the solution to these challenges and Scotland’s young people have a key role to play.

During our recent Glow Meet, which you can access through Watch Again T.V. at , you told us how you are already getting involved in caring for and improving Scotland’s environment. 

The extended closing date of 31st March 2014 will provide more opportunity for young people to participate. The awards ceremony will be held in June.

Who can enter?

This competition is open to all young people throughout Scotland between the ages of 5-18, whether through your school, as part of a group or as an individual.

You can also enter the Young Reporters for the Environment competition if you are eligible.

For more information, visit






Further links:

Scotland’s Environment website

Scottish environment youth discussion

Natural Partners: Forests and Education

Forests, trees and woodlands, and all aspects of wood as a material,  offer fantastic opportunities for learning. Explore a number of hands-on activities suitable for all ages e.g. working with wood to  make presents to take away, building bee hives, forest bridge design  and testing, digital games exploring forest  stewardship.

There will be samples of work in progress, by student teachers, in the theme of  STEM: Natural Partners exploring teaching and Learning for  Sustainability.

This event is hosted and designed by students from Moray House  School of Education (Edinburgh University), and staff from Forest  Research and Forestry Commission Scotland. Please do come along and drop in!

Time: 12.30 pm-3.30 pm
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Venue: Real Life Science Studio, John Hope Gateway
Booking: No booking required

For further information regarding this event and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh:

Natural posters (1)

To access last year’s student units of work:

Languages and STEM skills – opening doors!

SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages, is working with businesses and schools in Scotland to promote languages as a key skill for employment.

Operating effectively in a global economy relies on many skills and includes the right language skills. People who can communicate, at least conversationally, can make all the difference in the conduct of business, consolidating relationships with existing suppliers and customers and opening the way to new overseas contacts. When combined with STEM skills, the career opportunities in a vast array of sectors widens.

Key facts from the CBI Education and Skills Survey 2013

Seven out of ten (70%) businesses value foreign language skills among their employees

  • French(49%) and German(45%) are the leading languages in demand, but those geared to businesses in China feature increasingly prominently – of those valuing staff with foreign language skills, 28% value Manderin and 16% Cantonese
  • STEM skills are in high demand and nearly two in five firms (39%) are having difficulties recruiting staff. 41% expect this to persist over the next three years
  • Shortages of STEM qualified technicians (29%) and graduates (26%) are widespread among firms in engineering, hi-tech/IT and science areas
  • Businesses recognise that they have a key role in encouraging more young people to study STEM subjects, enthusing young people about STEM (55%) and working with Universities to ensure the business relevance of the course (50%).

Read about people who have combined their STEM and language skills in the pharmaceutical industry, technologies and the Scottish Football Association and find out why they consider that learning a language is really important.


Bringing Sustainability to Life

Year of Natural Scotland: working in partnership to bring sustainability to life at Dundee Science Centre Science Learning Institute.

Last Friday, Dundee Science Centre were joined by over 200 children from P6/7 at Kinross Primary School, St Mary’s RC Primary School Dundee and St Vincent’s RC Primary School Dundee. Children experienced an informative, hands-on day of learning about renewable energy and low carbon living.

Renewable energy scientists from Marine Scotland took the children on a journey from ancient Greece, through the discovery of electricity, to renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Children learned about the differences between renewable and non renewables, and explored amazing new technologies being developed to tap into our natural wind, tidal and wave energy sources. A Pelamis wave snake, and functioning model wind turbine really grabbed their attention.

Sustrans attended with their electric bikes and all children took part with great gusto in an energy challenge with Solar Cities Scotland. Taking it in turns, the children attempted to use muscle power to charge a capacitor to make music and smoothies, learning about the cost of power the hard way!

Dundee Science Centre is delighted to be working in partnership as part of Year of Natural Scotland to bring sustainable, low carbon technologies alive for children.

The Royal Institution Christmas Countdown

Inspired by this year’s CHRISTMAS LECTURES with Alison Woollard the Royal Institute has launched a Chromosome-themed advent calendar. Each day between 1 December and Christmas Eve they will release a new video working through the 23 pairs of human chromosomes and the mitochondrial DNA that make up the building blocks of human life.

Over 24 days they will look at ‘junk’ DNA, raise awareness of a range of genetic disorders and the research behind the latest treatments, learn about blood donation and visit Alison’s lab in Oxford to find out about genetic ageing. Join the Royal Institute to investigate male baldness, explain Nobel Prize winning science, take a trip to the zoo, delve into the mysteries of ginger hair and much much more…

Explore the advent calendar at

Plus, follow #Riadvent on Twitter or like us on Facebook to be the first to find and watch the videos and enter our competition to win a prop from the set of the CHRISTMAS LECTURES.

iSpot, You Spot, We all Spot Together! is the place to learn more about wildlife and to share your interest in a friendly community.  iSpot, developed by The Open University, allows you to upload photos of your observations and get help identifying what you have seen.

It’s perfect for those plants, fungi or mini-beasts that you’ve seen whilst outdoors whether it be in the playground or on a school trip, but are not sure what they are.  iSpot can be used as an aid to educating children and adults alike.  Just make sure you have a camera with you and then at home, the office or school, the photos can be uploaded on to iSpot. 

The website also has handy keys to help aid identification, once you register gain points as your reputation grows, and use the forums for discussions.  iSpot is your place to share nature. What have you spotted today?

iSpot is part of The OpenScience Laboratory. Follow us on twitter @ispot_uk