Experimental Blog

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Literacy Outcomes and the Networked Teacher

Interesting and pleasing to see that literacy outcomes include new media. Ewan captures these well here. I hope most teachers will embrace these quickly. At this end we can still see a skills deficit. A lot of the appointees from across the sectors we work with cannot cope with new technology and if in doubt try to fall back on the exam and test route to measuring attainment rather than making use of methods that reflect the skills and knowledge they want their candidates to develop. Which is how we do it in the vocational space.

There are not enough practitioners like the one in the diagram below. ( maybe it's the threat from the two ended spears pointing at the teacher ) It would be useful to see some more advanced outcomes like these embraced through teacher training , chartered teacher, TQFE , Assessor and Verifier Awards and other mechanisms that could grow the number of staff who positively embrace the new in their delivery. There is some serious staff development needed if we are going to make the most of these new Literacy Outcomes in ways that are meaningful to learners. There is also more we could do to allow learners to choose how they present their evidence of learning - which may be radical but would speed up change.

Interesting and challenging to see the Guardian readerships reaction to these developments too . I read blogs and interpret and filter information from a wide range of sources all the time - I still read books too. The spears are certainly out in some of the comments here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Reflections on Blogging

I have been keeping a blog again for almost a year. I am mainly doing this to keep my own staff in touch with my movements and musings. I was surprised at the weekend to hear that some of my friends from the non educational world have been looking in on this too. I think that can only be good - too many have an opinion but no knowledge of what actually goes on inside the education system. I think this is education's loss -  it's not really rocket science but we do bury our aims and objectives in so much jargon that real world people - even parents - are instantly switched off. Guess the problem is that we can't agree what education is really all about ;-)

I was touched too  in last week or so to be listed here in such illustrious company. It looks like those on the inside appreciate some of this babble too.

I was sorry not to be able to make Teachmeet in Perth but good to see that it was such a
success and some great sessions you can pick up on the Wiki.

If you google Teachmeet Northern Edition you will find some great stuff.

Good to see too that Scotedublogs is growing its appeal. The fact that this community is growing and growing can only be good for education and for the forging of links beyond the school gates – which is what I think  learning is all about.

I have to make a special mention of this posting on Don Ledingham's Blog it is  great to see a new Director of Education with such a clear and innovative vision prepared to make it public.

I hope in all these ways we are widening and deepening the education debate in a way that changes things where it matters,  for the learners.




Blogged with Flock

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Law, Social Care , McDonalds and Brussels

Usual running around but three big things in last two weeks which are the result of some pretty hard graft over the last year or so.

We launched the regulatory qualifications for Paralegals with the Scottish Paralegal Association and The Law Society for Scotland. This is a really significant development for Paralegals across Scotland and will lead to more formal recognition from the Law Society. Some coverage in Legal Press and the press.

We launched the Practice Learning Qualification for Social Workers and those working in Social Care with Andy Kerr Minister for Health .

Both these developments involve SQA qualifications forming part of the licence to practice as is the case in many other vocational areas.

On Friday I did a whistle stop visit to Brussels to speak to the Belgian equivalent of our job centres. In Belgium they are responsible for the training of job seekers as well as matching them to job opportunities. They are interested in the model we have adopted around the Microsoft Digital Literacy curriculum materials . We have wrapped them in three SQA units at SCQF 3 to boost IT , Literacy and Numeracy Skills. http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/27604.html

I am delighted to say this has been a big success. We were first country in world to get access to these materials mainly thanks to the fact the the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum was held in Edinburgh at the same time as this curriculum was being launched.

It was interesting to hear what the Belgians thought about the recent UK announcements about giving recognition to McDonalds' training and qualifications. It reinforced to me how far our thinking is advanced in Scotland around the SCQF and vocational competencies.

The press coverage of this and the level of ignorance exposed by the press is almost unbelievable. There was a lot of pap in the UK press but some closer to home too

It used to be the case that to own a McDonalds Franchise you had to go to the McDonald’s University and complete the equivalent of an MBA. There was much talk ten years or so ago about the rise of the corporate universities as Motorola and many others customised their own masters programmes. Mike Haggerty's comments in these articles are spot on we have been doing work like this giving recognition for high level vocational training in Scotland for many years.

The prejudice is palpable though. – I wonder if learners in schools will learn that there is a paralegal route to law, that there are numerous routes other than the degree route into Social Work , Accountancy and many other professions and vocations or when they’ll find the Digital Literacy materials or tell pupils heaven forefend that they’ll learn a lot about teamwork and a range of other skills by working in McDonalds or taking equivalent employment. A lot of this ties into some postings on John Connel's Blog on the purpose and relevance of schools.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

What I do

I was a guest at the Colquhan Dinner in Glasgow's Trade House on Friday night. It was a great night and twice I was challenged on what do you actually do as Business Manager at SQA. In a way that only those at the sharp bit of the private sector ever do.

Here is a snapshot

  • I lead a team of Qualification Managers and Officers and collectively we are responsible for the maintenance of half of Scotland's vocational portfolio of qualifications.
  • In product terms this means we look after (maintain and create) Higher National Qualifications, Scottish Vocational Qualifications, Professional Development Awards, National Certificate Awards , National Progression Awards (SCQF 3-6)
  • In customer terms we work with Schools , Colleges, Training Providers , Employers, Sector Skills Councils, Higher Education, Professional Bodies and other relevant partners in the public and private sectors.
  • Some of the sectors we look after include - Computing , Finance, Accounting, Business Administration, Learning and Teaching, Assessment and Verification, Training , Customer Service, Call Centres, Telecoms, Social Sciences, Journalism, Languages, Social Care , Health Care , Law, Legal Studies, Enterprise, British Sign Language, English for Speakers of Other Languages ( this is a sample)
  • Guiding principles - that awards are fit for purpose, to ensure that there are no barriers for learning and that there is appropriate recognition and progression routes available in all vocational sectors.
  • In some specific sectors our qualifications effectively form the licence to practice.

It is a fantastic job with some pretty specific demands in all the sectors we work in and with. As we do all of the above we are always on look out for ways we can modernise our processes through roll on roll off online assessment, the introduction of e-portfolios, or creative ways we can use technology to widen the critical consultation processes that are involved in qualifications design. We also do a fair bit of work to source support materials from a range of partners to support our centres and their learners.