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CfE – How big a change?

I attended the Scholar conference last Friday at Heriot Watt Uni. It was quite interesting to share ideas on how to use Scholar effectively from people who have used it much more than I have. In fact, I think the whole day was perfect for someone like me – a newcomer. The two main themes of the day were Scholar (obviously) and the Curriculum for Excellence. I get the feeling from many Scottish teachers that they have heard about these two things A LOT – but I know very little about them both.

1. Scholar: I love it. It’s such a fantastic resource and I only wish I could use it more. It’s hard to believe that there is an online and paper-based resource which perfectly matches the course. Why can’t I use it more? There doesn’t seem to be much of a culture amongst the kids of using Scholar in my school, so they don’t go online without lots of encouragement. Also, I find it difficult to incorporate Scholar into lessons with the pupils actually using it themselves. This normally involves booking computers in another part of the school and walking them there and back – difficult to dip in and out of Scholar as suggested at the conference.

2. Curriculum for Excellence: What is it all about? Brian Boyd spoke about Curriculum for Excellence and Scholar’s place within it. What was amazing to me was how different CfE sounded from Brian compared to what I’d already heard. I don’t know a huge amount about it being a newcomer. In fact, not much more than the four competencies which are on a wall in nearly every classroom. The impression I had up until now was that CfE wasn’t going to involve massive changes and was all about developing what we already do well and tweaking some things that need tweaking. Having listened to Brian (who was in some way involved with the creation of CfE) I’ve now heard a very different view. His view seems to involve a much more cross-curricular theme-based approach to secondary education with a very very different approach to assessment – i.e. a radical shift away from Highers. As he said a number of times during his address – “will the CfE actually be a rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic?”

So although I’m more confused about a few things, I feel that this is the point of a conference. You should leave a conference with questions, not answers – that’s what training is for.

On the bru

I met someone yesterday who is off to Moray House later in the year to start their primary PGCE. I was interested to know if she had heard anything about the current teacher job situation around Edinburgh at the moment. I was dismayed but not surprised to hear that she knew nothing of it. It’s scary to think that all those people are walking blindly into a PGCE course which could end up taking them nowhere. Those of us in the profession are already hearing lots of horror stories of teachers (particularly in primary) going back to the careers they left behind to teach! It would seem however that this is not making it out to the teaching hopefuls. It certainly isn’t mentioned on the Teach in Scotland site:

“As a new teacher who trained in Scotland, you’re guaranteed full-time employment for your first year” But, then what…?

So, I was pleased to see that a newspaper has picked up the story today: New Scots teachers go straight on the scrapheap. Some of the numbers on there are frightening. There are apparently 1790 probationers this year and only 100 full-time posts!

If you knew that would you be so keen to drop your career and pay your way through a PGCE?

Taste of Edinburgh

I went along to the C4 taste festival in the Meadows yesterday – it was absolutely fantastic. I don’t normally do these sorts of posts, but it was so good I wanted to tell as many people as possible to make sure you don’t miss out next year.

Happy Birthday to me

It’s my birthday today. That’s not much of a big deal these days. It’s not even one of the big milestone birthdays, so why bother blogging? Well, I just remembered that on my birthday last year I was in Namibia. When I got my payslip for June I found I had extra money. After a few enquiries I discovered that it was my ‘birthday bonus’! Such a nice idea I think.

I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in my payslip this month.

Freaked Out

I put one of those flickr spinner widgets on my blog the other week and it all worked fine.

But then I popped onto my blog yesterday only to find lots of classroom displays in my spinning cube. This is very odd as I’ve never taken a picture of a classroom display and certainly haven’t uploaded any to flickr. When I clicked on on the spinner it took me to a flickr page called stoneyhillteacher. Stoneyhill is the Primary School in Musselburgh where my wife works, and one of the pictures on the flickr page is from her room!!

She had no knowledge of this – one of the other members of staff has been taking pictures of displays around the school. But how has a picture of a display in my wife’s classroom accidently found itself onto my blog!?!?