The Broad General Education is in safe hands. Or at least the evidence of the ELT ‘Curriculum for Excellence: Approaches to Learning Conference’ would point to that firm conclusion. A range of inputs from a range of practitioners demonstrated some of the most innovative, effective and emerging practice is not only exciting but is also having an impact on our learners. Inputs came fromHMIe,UKTeacher of the Year (Christine Emmet), a range teachers, PTs, DHTs, QIOs/QIMs and education ICT providers. Each demonstrated whyScotlandshould be considered at the cutting edge of pedagogy on the international stage. More impressive still was the range of practice exhibited by the ninety-seven delegates who were not only keen to hear from the speakers and workshop presenters but wanted to share their own areas of good practice. The afternoon opportunity to break into discussion allowed many to sit back and take pride and confidence from the fact that what they are doing very much so reflects the principles first envisioned when the green folders landed on practitioners desks.
A lone voice of dissent and disillusionment at one table must have come to the wrong conference until he found gold dust in the final session. “It has not really done it for me” he said following hearing the keynote speech and attending three workshops. “I had hoped for more on deep thinking skills.”
“You should have come to my workshop! I quipped before directing him to both BTC4 and the finings of the Skills Excellence Group.
“BTC4?” he asked before hurriedly writing down the taking note of this solution to all his worries. “I will take a look at that. Can I get it online?”
His case was a minority voice in an otherwise positive audience. Hopefully his initial disillusionment was dispelled by the end of the day and assisted by some crutches to help him on the next stage of his journey. If not, well… one can only take the horse to water. Having said that, his case highlights the difficulty in getting key central messages out from “centre” (wherever or whatever that is!) to all practitioners.
Despite my positive buzz when leaving the conference, again (like my TeachMeet post) I truly do feel must make sure that all are either at the peak or aspiring to be at the peak of the mountain. And that peak is not just for practitioners but for the young people who they direct. By wanting the best teaching methodology for teachers we want the best learning opportunities and aspirations for our young people. Perhaps the cohort in attendance on Saturday was unique. How many others in the profession would turn out for a 0915 to 1500 hours conference o a Saturday? Trail blazers perhaps but ones who will go back to institutions and spread the word, fight the good fight and promote success and high aspirations.
With BGC on the right track and now being embedded will the new qualification structure become the straw that breaks the camels back? Not all are as committed, keen and engaged as the ninety-seven conference goers on Saturday. Conference facilitator, David Cameron, relayed a tweet he had found particularly insightful about the next stage of system wide change. “CfE is a war” the tweeter broadcast via the social networking site, “and the timing of the exams is an ASBO for your annoying neighbours.” The question for the tweeter would have to be – has the war been completely won? The BGC battle is one that appears to be victorious, however you have to win more than the battle to win the war. A war is perhaps not the best way to describe the changes that are happening in education just now. It furthers the feeling that it is a “them” and “us” process which is most certainly should not be.
Nevertheless diplomacy, time and the a few outstanding ‘peace’ treaties are required that ensue this process to go down as an overwhelming victory. The ‘peace treaties’ could resemble those ofVersailles. A range of people (Versailles: different countries / today different sectors and subject areas) and a hall of mirrors to reflect on current practice, opportunities and obstacles. Conferences like the ELT event offer such an opportunity and there needs to be more of them between now and the final stages of CfE roll out. Mike Russell’s recent announcement will perhaps offer an opportunity for this. These events/additional days will need to be well directed, organised and led if they are to be productive. Time is very much so against us and the stakes are very high.
The Broad General Education is a secure building block for that system wide change. The foundations of BGE extend far beyond green folders. It has been established by years of a balanced curriculum, well taught and the positive dispositions of some great educators. However the BGE is a building block and is not the keystone. The keystone is the one which will see this process of system wide educational change come to and end as far as the ‘roll out’ is concerned. With structural change ending teachers will be able to go back to making the best quality learning opportunities for learners and not feeling their way with structural change about which they are more removed from than ever before. After all, it is effective teaching and learning that will make the biggest difference to our young people. Thankfully those who were there on Saturday were converts to this message and missionaries in effective pedagogy.