Guest blogpost: Paul Campbell shares his thoughts on the spring forum

Scottish Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society – Spring Forum

Paul Campbell is a teacher at Clarkston Primary School, North Lanarkshire, advisor to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Futures Steering Group and Teacher-Director on the board of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC).

From the beginning of the Scottish Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society’s Spring Forum, the quote that I couldn’t get out of my head was,
“Vision without action is a day dream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” There was a real sense of understanding of this, and the visions being shared and co-constructed were grounded in the actions and practicalities that would need to accompany them.

There was without a doubt a sense of collectivity or a shared vision between the learners, teachers, leaders and academics (in one sense, groups of people in attendance, and in another sense, descriptors of each and every one of us) in attendance about what we believe and want learning, teaching and education in Scotland to look like and to achieve.

I took a lot from the event. From the discussion and debate a clear focus, in my view, was the scalability and sustainability of change and transformation in Scottish education. For positive sustained and far reaching transformation we need objectives or visions that are dynamic and can change as the process of transformation progresses and develops and not view a change in direction or objective as a failure, more as a process of learning and growth. This is something that I think we need to be less afraid of in Scotland. We need more leaders, like those in attendance at the forum, across the system who are pro-active in building and maintaining the shared vision and associated action for transformation.

> Vision, goals and outcomes can vary, develop and change; it’s that process that will lead not just to successful policy implementation, but meaningful, lasting and positive change. It is leadership that recognises this that will lead to a direction and vision that is needed to see through the changes in curriculum, learning, teaching and teacher education in Scotland; be it content or principle.

While a clarity of vision, desire and commitment was clear amongst attendees, I think it illustrated a clear gap. How do we make the sort of discussions such as those at the forum and the ideas for subsequent action more accessible for a broader range and even a greater number of stakeholders? We had learners, teachers, education service directors, parents and academics together having critical conversations and productive dialogue – a process, when sustained, made accessible to more, and complimenting strong and dynamic leadership, could be the foundation for making the vision we have for education in Scotland a genuine and lasting reality.

There was one more quote that kept coming to mind, particularly when reflecting overall on the event. It was from Margaret Mead who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

While there are aspects that need greater critical analysis to ensure the system’s objectives relating to learning, teaching and systemic improvement are met, there is sound reason to be optimistic. With the right leadership, vision and genuine and meaningful involvement of all those involved in the education and learning of our young people in Scotland, we will not just have a sound vision of a potential tomorrow for education in Scotland, we will be able to make that a welcome reality

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