Home and reflecting on all the debate last week both the formal and the invaluable networking that happens at events of this kind. Some of the questions circulating at the conference we in Scotland have found our own answers too.
Most of the discussion was progressive and out on the frontiers of learning that in the main the Scottish education system operates in.
- most developed systems doing some re-evaluation of school curriculum
- have moved to QA inspection system based on self evaluation with external audit
- ICT and on-line learning challenge same in most systems – few have been as bold as GLOW
- Most countries developing qualification frameworks that embrace academic and vocational pathways for learners.
- some see education as way to import and export talent and as critical for democratization , civil society, empowering individuals and as a wealth generator
- transition challenges between primary and secondary and secondary and tertiary in most systems
- debate on importance of 2-6 year old developmental period - some countries doing more systematic training of nursery teachers and putting curriculum frameworks in place.
Some of the questions suggested a legacy we may have left behind
I was asked if we still have an 11+ exam and without it what do our secondary schools use for selection .Another delegate described why learners sometimes need beaten and was surprised to know that corporal punishment was now banned even in Scottish private schools.
Others were the kind we still get on the home front about why we need National Qualifications – Bologna Process, European Qualifications Framework and Global Standards - is the short hand answer – but it is clear we have way to promote understanding when civil servants don’t understand systems.
Biggest challenge to my thinking is how far the private sector operates in developing countries in running education systems and how much private companies are penetrating even the English system. They offer everything from inspection services to the building and running of schools for governments and local authorities. I think we only have operations like this in the special school sector in Scotland but I am sure they will be looking to sell on services wherever they can. Staffed mainly by ex public sector folk – owned by and profit driven for public or private shareholders and in some cases former educational publishers – will be interesting to see how this manifests itself in our system.
Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia have transformed in 30 years and flying back through Dubai, a city that in 25 years has erupted in a desert – it is nice to know that both places have a thirst and affinity for UK awards. Malaysia wants to be an education hub for all of its neighbours by 2017 and I hope we can do a lot to help them meet their target. I met a lot of customers interested in offering Scottish Vocational Qualifications and lots of customers interested in learning more about the Scottish Education system.