No delay for ‘Curriculum for Excellence’


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Curriculum for Excellence | Posted on April 22, 2010

IMG_4809Scottish Education Secretary Michael Russell has confirmed today that, following management board advice this afternoon, there will be no delay to the roll out of Curriculum for Excellence in Secondary schools this August.

Mr Russell has also confirmed that planning for the new qualifications, which are not due for four years, will continue – based on the advice of the overwhelming majority of Management Board members. However, Mr Russell will also continue his discussions with the EIS – who are the one body on the board in favour of a one year delay.

Mr Russell said:

“I have immediately accepted the Management Board’s unanimous advice that there be no delay in present plans for the roll out in secondary schools this August. Curriculum for Excellence is making a real difference in our classrooms at primary level and it will be of great benefit in secondary schools. There should be no further doubt about what is going to happen.

“I also concur that we need to continue to build teachers’ confidence in the process of change. I think the evidence from the primary sector is that when teachers are involved in delivering the curriculum they very quickly gain expertise and I will continue to do everything I can to ensure secondary teachers get the same positive support and experience the same benefits.

“I have already seen examples of Curriculum for Excellence in action in schools across Scotland and of excellent planning and I am determined that it will continue on track. That is why I issued my ten point plan three weeks ago – all these actions will further secure the full implementation of the new curriculum .

“I am also minded to accept the advice from the Board with regard to plans for the new qualifications. But as they are some four years away there is time and opportunity to discuss with the EIS – who were alone in not agreeing with this advice from the Board. I will be asking the EIS to enter into constructive and detailed dialogue with me and my officials as soon as possible so that we can address their continuing concerns.

“I am grateful to the Board for its hard work today and up to today. Much remains to be done but this important moment will help to drive forward the new curriculum for the benefit of all Scotland’s young people and indeed for the benefit of the nation’s prospects.”

Visit to Dumfries & Galloway by New Jersey students


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Featured | Posted on April 22, 2010

IMG_6641Last week, students in Dumfries & Galloway schools welcomed 23 students and 4 staff from Northern Valley, New Jersey, USA. Families in Castle Douglas & Lockerbie really enjoyed hosting young people from New Jersey over the past 10 days. A reciprocal visit to the USA will take place next year. We can’t wait!

The visit started at Glasgow airport on Sunday 11th April. Bumped into (not literally!) Michael Russell (Scottish Secretary for Education) at the airport and shared with him our itinerary for the week. He’d been on the flight from New York with our American guests! So here goes with a whistle-stop guide to the week’s events.


From Glasgow Airport we headed down the Ayrshire coast in the sunshine to Culzean Country Park and a tour of the Castle, followed by lunch. Then on to Turnberry where last year’s British Open Golf Championship took place. All the party were warmly welcomed into the Turnberry Clubhouse. Depart for a short visit to Robert Burns’ birthplace and Brig o’ Doon.



Mull of Galloway lighthouseAmerican students attend Castle Douglas High School and Lockerbie Academy. Chaperones have a tour of Dumfries & Galloway. We visit Cream o’ Galloway (ice cream tasting!), Mull of Galloway lighthouse and Logan Gardens. In the evening, parents, staff and students all meet up at a civic reception in the Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries.

New Jersey staff at Logan GardensCivic Reception at the Easterbrook Hall


Outdoor Education staff in Castle Douglas provided opportunities for our visiting American students to take part in kayaking on Carlingwark Loch and mountain biking at Dalbeattie Forest.

Mountain biking in Dalbeattie Forest

Mountain biking in Dalbeattie Forest

Kayaking on Carlingwark Loch

Kayaking on Carlingwark Loch


Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

An early start for New Jersey and Lockerbie students as we head for Edinburgh. A tour of the Castle is followed by an opportunity for shopping on the Royal Mile. In the afternoon we visit the Playhouse Theatre for the show ‘Laughter in the Rain’, the story of Neil Sedaka, complete with references to New Jersey to make our guests feel at home! After the show we enjoy a meal in an Italian restaurant.


Another early start (7.15am!) with Castle Douglas and USA students as we head north for Loch Lomond. A visit to Luss on the banks of Loch Lomond is followed by a drive via the ‘Rest and Be Thankful’ behind a very slow heavy load vehicle with police escort. Plenty time to enjoy the view and hear about the old military road built in 1753(!).

Enjoying the sunshine in Inverary

Enjoying the sunshine in Inverary

On to Inverary for lunch outside at picnic tables in the sunshine. A tour of the Castle (another one!) is followed by a fun visit to Inverary Jail.

The Court at Inverary Jail

The Court at Inverary Jail

Back to Glasgow for a Chinese meal and a game of 10 pin bowling.


American students in Lockerbie this morning with Graham Herbert (Head Teacher) and then in Dumfries in the afternoon to learn more about Robert Burns. An opportunity for shopping in Dumfries ahead of this evening’s farewell dinner for all.

Saturday – Tuesday

The flight home planned for Saturday morning is cancelled due to volcanic ash cloud concerns. Dumfries & Galloway families in and around Castle Douglas and Lockerbie come to the rescue with further hosting offers and all students continue to enjoy an extended stay. All students at school on Monday and Tuesday. New Jersey group depart from Dumfries at 11.00pm on Tuesday evening and head for Heathrow.

Eyjafjallajökull Volcano


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration | Posted on April 21, 2010

envisat satellite

Nobody (apart from a couple of Icelandic Vulcanologists) anticipated the possibility of Eyjafjallajökull causing such disruption to the lives of people across the globe. Five days after planning to leave, our school group visitors from New Jersey are at this moment waiting in Heathrow to return home. Families in Dumfries & Galloway (in and around Castle Douglas and Lockerbie) have been fantastic in hosting our USA guests, not only for the week they planned to be here, but for the unexpected extended stay since last Saturday. Thanks to all families for your kind support. We’re looking forward already to our visit to New Jersey next year.

Curriculum for Excellence 10 Point Plan


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Curriculum for Excellence, Featured, Learning & Teaching | Posted on April 6, 2010

Scottish teachers (those currently in Tenerife and Majorca) may have noticed on Spanish TV today the British PM’s visit to the Palace requesting the dissolution of Parliament. Scottish Education Secretary Michael Russell will be hoping all in Scottish Education (currently at home or abroad) take note of his recently unveiled ten point plan to drive forward the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence.  Mr Russell confirmed that the Scottish Government will put a package of support in place – including an additional £3 million – to help make sure every school is ready to implement the new curriculum in the autumn term.  The package will put in place:

  • Tailored support for any secondary school which needs additional help to be ready for the autumn term. Heads have been invited to tell local authorities and the Scottish Government what help they need. This could include help with CPD, additional materials, expert advice or drawing on the experience of teachers from neighbouring schools who have already fully prepared for the new curriculum
  • Additional practical materials for teachers to support implementation and ensure clarity on what is expected
  • £3 million funding for councils to help support quality assurance and moderation of assessment. This will see a system of checks to ensure that the assessment of pupils is being applied consistently and in line with national standards
  • A proposal for literacy and numeracy units to be built into English and maths qualifications to simplify the system for formally recognising these skills which will be developed across the curriculum
  • ‘Excellence Groups’ bringing subject teachers and experts in individual fields – such as the sciences – together to support excellence in education in their subject area and across the curriculum
  • HMIE work with education authorities and schools to support their implementation of Curriculum for Excellence with effective innovation promoted through inspections
  • A series of events to allow headteachers to share experience and best practice
  • A greater role for parents in managing the new curriculum with the National Parent Forum Scotland invited to nominate a member to sit on the management board
  • Additional materials for pupils and parents explaining the new curriculum. Mr Russell will also invite the National Parent Forum Scotland and pupil councils to play a leading role in improving communication
  • A group, convened by Mr Russell, made up of stakeholders and those with an interest in education to advise on future development of Curriculum for Excellence

Lipar Olof


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on April 1, 2010

Olof's house in Norway (20 miles north 0f Oslo)On the first day of April it’s appropriate to remind music teachers and other educators about the contribution to the world of classical music by the largely ignored Norwegian composer Lipar Olof. Like Edvard Grieg, (famous for ‘Morning’ from the Peer Gynt Suite), Olof also wrote evocative music.

‘Afternoon’ from his rarely performed opera ‘Don’t be a Fool’, is a Norwegian classic, much played on Scandinavian radio drivetime shows.

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