Saturday, March 29, 2008

Where has March gone ?

A criticism that can often justifiably be made of any non-departmental public body is that we are too preoccupied with our own bureaucracy and answering up the way and that we lose touch with realities on the ground , in our case the centres and learners that we are there to serve.

March is always the month when we tend to be most inward looking as we do all the chasing and finalising of projects and budgets - a flurry of invoicing and making sure we have squeezed every penny from the budget to get best value for the public purse. There has been much of that this month and a lot going on in the policy sphere.

Internally we finally commissioned and e-assessment platform that will be used across the SQA.
We devoted a lot of time to planning SQA's new structure which like the e-assessment platform will be unveiled over next few months. We did a lot of work with staff around new modes of assessment , unit and the design of arrangements in preparation for work around Curriculum for Excellence and the ongoing development of the national qualifications portfolio. We have had input from Dylan Williams and range of gurus from Scotland , UK and abroad.

Externally in policy terms we finally had the green light to move ahead with the consultation on what may be new courses at SCQF 4 and 5. We have also been asked to look at potential of some baccalaureates and Literacy and Numeracy Tests. The parliamentary debate is here.
We watched the formation of the new agency Skills Development Scotland - which starts operation in April and I attended the last meeting of the Sector Skills Development Agency in Scotland to update on the last sector skills agreements.

I did manage to get out to present the inaugural Youth Worker of the Year Awards at Murrayfield , present at an excellent event at Cardonald College for School , College and ETP Microsoft Centres and present at a Parliamentary Reception for the centres that are working with the Industry Alliance for Jobs.

Away from day job I fufilled some commitments as a Board Member at Anniesland College (new build is going to be a credit to the City of Glasgow). Managed an escape with Anne to sunny Rome for the Scotland Italy Rugby Match and had a great easter weekend with the family.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When will education start working

From Today's Herald - I fully acknowledge it is not all about qualifications and worry about a system that makes so much of statistics and does not see the people behind these - published today I acknowledge too that there is much good news - most young people do move on to Education , Employment and Training and there are not big skills gaps being reported in Scotland .

However, today's Herald Article makes grim reading - are these young people getting access to the right kind of stimulation in schools ?

One in 10 Scottish school-leavers went straight on to the dole last year
raising fresh fears over the education of some of the country's most vulnerable
children. Scottish Government figures show that of the 51,000 young people who
left school in 2006-07, more than 5000 were registered as unemployed. Statistics
also showed the proportion of pupils leaving school with no Standard Grades has
remained static in the past three years at around 4% of the total. By the age of
21, a young man from the Neet group - now referred to by the Scottish Government
as More Choice More Chances - is three times more likely than average to have
mental health issues, five times more likely to have a criminal record and six
times less likely to have any qualifications. Nearly half of this group also go
on to long-term unemployment.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


John Johnstone , Robert Jones and Peter Liddle have been updating the platform that Scotedublogs sits on .They are stars and I was glad that SQA could provide some support for this . Think my comment says it all.

Well done guys – sponsorship is just small recognition for all of your hard work . I hope SQA and LT Scotland can do more to support work like this in the future.
Let me know if there is anything else we can do.

I and colleagues at SQA make regular use of the RSS Feed on Scotedublogs. It is a fantastic barometer of activity across Scotland – The new Times Ed ;-)
There is a lot more we could do to promote Scotedublogs as a means to link up bloggers in Schools to those in Further Education and Workbased Learning.

Remember if If you are a Scots Educational blogger you can do your bit to support ScotEduBlogs too:
  • Make sure your blog is listed.
  • Make sure the tags on your listing describe your blog.
  • Link from your blog to ScotEduBlogs (there are some images and help on the wiki).
  • You might want to help out by designing a new graphic or in other ways, see the wiki again.
If you check out my sidebar and you can see ScotEduBlog Logo

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Curriculum for Excellence

We are getting close to looking at the what will, and how it will be assessed bit of a Curriculum for Excellence. This is worth a look and glad to see it is sitting on a Moodle Platform( a great example of disruptive change in the VLE market)

Some debate on Ewan's blog on what makes communities work . I have lived and worked through at least five major changes in this bit of Schools Curriculum and at least six in vocational area in a much shorter time span. Critical for learners and delivery that we get this right and that we get a model that allows rapid and continuous change once implemented.

Contentious and contended ground this but essential that a consensus is reached. I am sure this will make the GLOW groups glow with debate at some point. I wonder how good our community will be at forming a community of practice around this ? .

The Qualifications for the Future virtual space at SQA Academy is a resource for colleagues from schools, colleges, ETPs, the workplace and in the community seeking information on developments and latest thinking about qualifications and assessment. The virtual space includes DVD clips, on-line questionnaires, papers, think-pieces and letters, all of which provide ideas about the future of qualifications and assessment.

Information-giving is, however, only one purpose of this virtual space, albeit an important one. A further purpose is to encourage self-reflection and professional debate through an on-line forum which colleagues are encouraged to use to reflect on current practice and their hopes and wishes for future qualifications.
You want informed takes on where we can take assessment then there is some pretty good stuff here to get debate off and running. I'd make everyone look at Ewan McIntosh in full flow in New Zealand and see where we can use Web 2.0 to give the landscape here back to the learners a bit.

Thanks to Kate O' Hara for graphic