The Story of a Timetable⤴

from

I have just completed my first ever secondary school timetable. It has been a huge learning curve and I have decided to write a bit about it to help anyone who might find themselves in the same position as I was back last December.

When a colleague left at short notice and I took on acting head of teaching and learning secondary, the timetable came as part of my remit. I had never been involved in timetabling before but had attended a two day course on the principles of secondary timetabling back in 2015 and still had the useful notes, folder and certificate.

The most important part of that course was that it provided me with the following image:

There is a school’s worth of pupils standing in the school playground. Every teaching period of the day, they all have to be grouped in a slightly different configuration to attend a class with a teacher in a room. The timetable is the organisational structure that allows for this.

When timetabling, you must ensure that every pupil is catered for and that no teacher or room is doubled up.

(There are computer programmes that help with the whole of this process and can make it a simple task.  If you can afford one that has good reviews, it may be worth it. But I was not able to purchase one for the whole process and so I and going to describe the process that I went through. I know colleagues who have timetabled for years and still prefer to work with paper and pen and in their head rather than using a programme.)

In late March, I attended a course with SEEMIS on how to use the two parts of SEEMIS  (COS and SETTS) that can assist with timetabling. It was useful but I left it with  major anxiety as I felt that I had lots of unanswered questions and that there was not a huge connection between the SEEMIS training and the two day course I had done previously….

However, a simple image that I created to help me was to imagine that COS and SETTS (SEEMIS Extended Timetabling Toolkit System) are two tables. On the COS table, you have lists of all of your pupils and their option choices as well as a framework showing option columns and numbers of sections (classes) in each year group. Here you can also move pupils into the correct sections (classes) and create class lists.

 In SETTS you have a similar framework but also information about staffing and rooms.

Neither table does the actual process of creating the overall timetable (schematic or chronological – see below) for you. 

You have to do this yourself, sitting at a third table between the two with a range of pieces of paper, coloured pens and pencils, tippex mice and endless cups of coffee).

Starting with the seniors

Pupils in the senior school will follow a programme of study based on options or choices. 

Obviously the numbers of pupils opting for courses each year will vary and so no one year’s timetable will suit the following year’s cohort exactly. In my school, we had options forms that had worked ok the year before with very similar staffing and accommodation and so I decided to use them again as a starting point this year, given that there have been no significant changes to curriculum, staffing or rooms for the next session. We did draft option choice runs in January and February with all of our 3rd, 4th and 5th year pupils and made a couple of tweaks – for example moving a science subject from one column to another in fourth year so that more pupils could take it.

The option forms I adopted had a clear indication of class sizes (practical classes max at 20, others at 30).

When you have an option form, you know that each column represents all pupils in a cohort being in one of the choices listed and dividing into groups to go to their classes (also referred to as sections) in the column at one time (think the playground image on a smaller scale). At this point it does not matter that each column might have a different number of periods assigned to it than to the other columns. 

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Once we had run a final options exercise in March, I entered all the data into our information management system called SEEMIS in the section called Next Session COS (Curricular Option Structure). Here you can pull across all the names of pupils currently on roll and enter their option choices into a structure that mirrors your option columns.

My next step was to block together the columns for the three years who had made option choices. You have to do this so that the combinations work in terms of staff and rooms. For example if your fifth year column A has science but so do your 4th and 3rd year column As, it is unlikely to work because you will run out of science teachers and labs.

In SEEMIS, there is a way of working out which combinations of senior school options will work together. You have to enter your options structure into the SETTS part of the system and specify the number of classes in each subject in each column. You then have to enter your staffing information very carefully: who can teach what and for how many periods. The more staff you have who are able to teach more than one subject, the better here.

(For the record, an FTE teacher in Scotland teaches 22.5 hours maximum a week which I my school is around 26 periods; our period lengths vary. A head of department teaches around 23 and a pastoral head teaches around 19. It is very important to record this accurately at this stage).

In SETTS you first run pairs. This is the option combinations that will work for your upper two years in terms of staffing and rooms at any one time (in any one period).

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You then need to decide which of these will allow you tick off all of the numbers of periods required in each column. For example, you need to use your 5th year column A  six times because a Higher course gets six periods a week and your 4th year column A four times because a National 4 course gets four periods a week.. …etc etc.

Following the identification of 33 pairs (we have a 33 period week) that would allow all the necessary periods for each course in each column to be accommodated, you then run SEEMIS to show compatible Triples; this is the option combinations that will work in terms of staffing and rooms for your upper three years at any time.

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You then identify 33 Triples that will allow the necessary periods for each course in each column to be accommodated. 

You should  repeat triple use within the 33 as much as possible as this is less likely to result in split classes.

This is where I needed help and drove to Dunoon to get some amazing support from a very experienced timetabler. I have to confess that the magic he worked is still a slight mystery to me but involved poring over combination charts as these and resulted in me being able to identify what is referred to as the SCHEMATIC; the series of Triples that allows each of the senior year groups to have their option subjects staffed and roomed  within your 33 period (or whatever) week.

After this, you need to rearrange the 33 parts of the SCHEMATIC into your CHRONOLOGICAL timetable for the upper school.

This is the arranging of the individual period blocks into the days of the week and the periods for each day. When you do this you want a good spread and balance across the week.

Then comes the part where you need to see what the CHRONOLOGICAL timetable actually looks like in terms of subjects. My Heath Robinson approach to this was to create a colourful paper skirt which I pored over analysed and rearranged until it seemed to work.

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The next step was to take the senior school chronological and transpose it onto a master timetable with days and periods along the top and staff down the side.

There had to be two halves to this: one showing the departments where subjects are taught lower down the school in practical classes of twenty and the other showing those taught in larger classes.

Moving on the the juniors

Once the upper school classes had been scheduled, it was time to add in the first and second year classes.

This was like doing a jigsaw puzzle or suduko of matching and checking and trying to find solutions. 

The trick is to constantly keep the idea of a particular group or cohort of pupils needing to be accounted for in every period of the day, ensuring at the same time that each class gets allocated its full range of subjects.

So, let’s say that second year need 4 periods of maths across the week and that they are taught in  four classes. You need to find 4 periods in the week where there are 4 maths teachers available (i.e. not tied up with third, fourth or fifth year.) Then, from those available, you need to select those periods which will give a good spread across the week and allow as much maths to be taught in the morning as possible.

Once second year are in, first year maths needs to be added.. etc, etc.

Maths is fairly straightforward but with other subjects the matching is trickier. 

For practical classes in first and second year, there are five classes. At any one time, the five classes must be in a practical class (PQRST) – so one or more could be in art, technical studies, home economics etc etc.

The same applies when the year group is doing a non practical class and must be divided into three classes (1,2,3) across subjects like PE, RE, History, French….

This part took me a long time. It helped to colour code the classes and have a grid to tick once a class had been assigned.

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Here it is really useful to be able to remember which teachers may be able to teach out of subject or deliver an odd period of PSE/RE/Study skills.

I had a period of about 12 hours scratching my head over a seemingly impossible French situation…. until I remembered that I can teach French.

After you have done this part, you enter it into SEEMIS in the SETTS section in SETTS: this can be done by option column or by individual class and you can get COS and SETTS to talk to one another so that class information is pulled through and individual pupil and staff timetables can be created and printed. This will also link to the Click and Go part of SEEMIS so that once the new timetable starts, staff will get the correct electronic registers.

Your new timetable will stay in NEXT SESSION until a period in the summer called turnaround. This means that you can start using it before turnaround (this is called rollover) and you just need to enter the date for this into the correct part of COS about a week before you plan to roll.

Between rollover and turnaround, you may refer to pupils in their new year group (ie S1 become S2) but in SEEMIS they do not officially move up until Turnaround.

There are good manuals to go with SEEMIS timetabling but they are not always easy to read if you are new to them; they assume a basic understanding of the process and terminology.

Once all the timetable has been entered into SETTS, the information from COS is merged and analysed and will flag up any conflicts or clashes.

Then, you are in a position to see and print individual pupil and staff timetables.

Unfortunately, it is only at this point that you can see what an individual pupil’s day and subject combination looks like so it is worth trying to get to this point early enough to be able to do some re-jigging if needed. Only when

I printed my own daughter’s timetable, for example, did I see that she has three science subjects in a row on a Tuesday due to the options she chose…..

Never, however, can you get the overview of your entire school timetable in SEEMIS, however, so you must ensure that you keep a tight control over and correlation between any changes made in your spreadsheet and SEEMIS.

Tomorrow we roll. 

If it has worked, I will be very happy.

If not, there will be another chapter below entitled “learning from an I successful timetabling experience”.

Timetabling has been a hugely challenging experience for me. The challenges have been both positive and negative. On the positive side I have learnt an incredible amount about curriculum, staffing  and the philosophy and technicality of timetabling.

On the negative side, I have suffered huge anxiety and been up against it in terms of time.

Everyone says that the timetabler needs to start early, be part of a team and be away from school for a good week (preferably in a quiet hotel room) to do the technical parts of the schematic and chronological timetable.

I faced challenges in respect of all of these.

There were massive highs and lows (the latter mainly when you find an insoluble problem and have to work back and unpick, over and over).

I am not even going to talk about the tears, swearing, lost nights, weekends and holidays since Christmas.

But some of that is my own fault. Once I have a project or problem in my head, it eats away at me and runs in the background until it is solved and the timetable was one big problem that needed solving and have my brain very little rest. Some reflections on all of that here:

https://staffrm.io/@lenabellina/zFRfN37d1N

https://staffrm.io/@lenabellina/DT8iBwxztL

Next year I will work differently, if I am still in my current post.

But this year will all have been worth it, if tomorrow:

  • Teachers and pupils are all in the right places at the right time
  • The timetable allows for efficient and effective use of staffing to support the best in teaching and learning
  • The timetable supports flexible curriculum delivery and personalisation and choice
  • The pupils and staff in school are happy, healthy and doing the best they can.

Ready for tomorrow:

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Fingers crossed.


Re-reading and the Discovery of Old Friends⤴

from @ Just Trying to be Better Than Yesterday

We’ve been decorating this week which meant moving bookcases in and out of rooms. It has been a big job, not helped by finding myself sitting in the hall flicking wistfully through books I’d forgotten I had. A volume of Woody Allen cartoons; a signed copy of The Wasp Factory’ by Ian Banks; a book of John Updike essays on Art. There is no more blissful way to spend an afternoon, surrounded by old friends, more revealing than any photo album. The Updike book, especially, grabbed my attention because he is, perhaps, the writer who has influenced my reading history more than any other.

It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I went to University. My schooling and my background had convinced me that it was for others and complete terror of formal education kept me away. Throughout that time though I read and read. Updike’s Rabbit novels were an obsession. Harry Angstrom’s struggles to cope with the reality of a changing America struck a chord and stayed with me throughout Uni until eventually I wrote my dissertation about them. I still own my well-thumbed Penguin copies and they’ve sat on the shelves ever since. But here’s the thing: since graduation -1996 – I’ve never been able to pick them up again.

Like old, lost friends, I’m planning to reacquaint myself this summer. The first book sees Harry at 26, my age when I when to Uni. The last one is at 56 – not quite me yet but not far off. I wonder what I’ll find in there though: the lines I underlined, the corners I folded down.  Rereading old books is not merely a luxury, it is a necessity at times. Like old photos, we may see an additional detail in the corners, a changing perspective. And while Harry and I are old friends who lost touch, perhaps we can discover a whole new relationship.

Discovering old books unexpectedly is a joy. It’s why I’ve never been one for alphabetical order; not books, not records, not CDs. The aimless wandering allows me to stumble upon unexpected corners and spark old memories. Along with our music collections, nothing travels with us as much as books. Moving into any new home, sharing that home with a significant other for the first time. Our books take a special place. That bookmark you left sticking out of ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’; that train ticket peeking out of ‘The Third Policeman’; the post-its peppering ‘The Magus’.  They all tell our life stories for us.

So, it’s time to move the bookcases back today. It’ll likely take less time than when I moved them out. But what I will do is shelve the old friends in a much more prominent position. The newer, shinier upstarts can take a back seat for a while. Books change as we change; our knowledge, our political perspectives, our relationships. Opening up the ‘Rabbit’ novels once again is a big step for me, but one I hope will, rather than return me to a younger man I don’t know any more, allow me to rediscover the beauty and art of my book collection.


iPads: Words and Pictures⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

This is pretty basic stuff but I’ve found it useful in class.

I’ve often combined writing poetry with digital tools in the classroom. There are a lot of short forms that mean even the slowest typist can produce something good in limited time. From a pupil blogging perspective pupils of varying ability often get great results they can be proud of publishing.

When I started using iPads in teachers training and with pupils, I started using simple poetry forms as a way to produce something quickly that could develop from text be combined with images, video and audio.

Good, IMO, forms are kennings, lunes, haiku and six word stories.

Back then we used skitch and comic life to added text to pictures. More recently I moved on to the free version of pic collage 1.

When I arrived back in the classroom with a pile of iPads I’ve been using the technique quite a bit.

More recently 2 I’ve cut out third party apps to use the newish built in markup in the Photos app. Recently I demoed the process at an interview and saw Jenni Robertson show it at an Apple event in Glasgow. On both occasions I was surprised to find that it was a new concept to most of the audience. I though it might be worth a post here. There is a video embedded at the bottom of this post, but here are some written instructions.

Start with an image

This is a good opportunity to talk and demo a wee bit about copyright and attribution. In class we often use the Morguefile or my own FlickrCC Stampr.

write some words

I believe it is best to use the notes app for this, avoiding thinking about how the text looks, where it goes etc.

Copy the text to the clipboard.

Combine the words and pictures

Open photos

Select and view the image.

Click on the adjustment icon

When the photo opens click on the ellipses and then Markup

On the markup screen click the T tool to add a text box and then press on the box to edit it.

 

Paste in your poem.

Adjust the size, colour and placing of the text.

Bonus Tip – drop shadow

Duplicate the text, change the colour of one and move the top one over the bottom leaving a nice ‘old style’ drop shadow. I think this is worth it as a intro to layers in graphics. It can also hep readability on complex backgrounds.

 

 

Although this is a very simple lesson I think it give the opportunity to teach a few different things over and above literacy involved in the writing:

  • Copyright and creative commons
  • Combining apps (safari, notes, photos) in a workflow.
  • Layers

It has the potential for being extended into video & audio editing (groups pictures perhaps) and sharing the results.

Here is a quick screencast.

 

1. Some examples from my class using pic collage Frosty Photos and Poems – Banton Biggies

2. For example Kennings, we know about animals – Banton Biggies

above

Credit where credit is due on #PedagooFriday⤴

from @ Pedagoo.org

You’re probably aware of our end-of-the-week hashtag #PedagooFriday.  The idea is to create a space on Twitter where teachers can share a positive experience from their classroom and, perhaps, develop a happier tone at the end of the week.  It’s been quite a week.  Nuff said. As this week’s Duty Moderator, I noticed that several […]

What’s Grown Ups Going to Think?⤴

from @ Just Trying to be Better Than Yesterday

There is a moment in ‘Lord of the Flies’ when Simon, the artistic, religious visionary, speaks an uncomfortable truth. ‘Maybe there is a beast…maybe it’s only us.’ The boys in the story begin to show what happens when all rules, all modes of decency, are eroded. I thought about this recently when reading some of the sneering tweets aimed at the hashtag, PedagooFriday.

I created #PedagooFriday six years ago;  blame me. I wanted to create a space where anyone could share a positive experience from their classroom and, perhaps, develop a happier tone at the end of the week. I’m very proud of what it became, even though I have no input into its running now. Of course, there will be things that are not so great, things that you might feel are nonsense. However, we should welcome new voices even if we may disagree. If not, we welcome a world of ‘Lord of the Flies’ and the atmosphere of ‘survival of the fittest’ pervades.

When the rules, or lack of them,  are established, we manoeuvre in our attempts to be one of the tribe, to impress Jack, the most powerful, strongest, angriest voice. Standing just behind his shoulder, we can throw spear-like tweets knowing that someone has our back. Who we hurt, or upset, is neither here nor there because this is a Twitter and you choose to enter the arena. There is no attempt to enter dialogue, to explain; no attempt to empathise or understand. It is acting without responsibility and, we soon discover, there are no rules.

So, many entering the fray for the first time, sharing their practice, find themselves spurned and mocked very publicly. Jack and his tribe sniff out a weakness; perhaps retweet with a mocking aside; perhaps write a hilariously scathing blog post in retort. But that’s okay, isn’t it? Because Twitter is in the public domain and if you choose to land on the island then what do you expect? Very quickly you are asked to choose one side of the island over another and you better make the right choice because after that anything goes.

Except it doesn’t. We may well choose to share ideas others may think of as silly or frivolous. It may well be the first time we’ve cleared our throats and, like Percival Wemys Madison, ‘The Vicarage, Harcourt St, Anthony, Hants’, have chosen to speak up. We are, for the most part, trying to find our voice in the scary world of Edutwitter. And who can say that at some point we haven’t tweeted something we later regretted or were embarrassed by. When I joined Twitter seven years ago, the educational landscape was a fairly empty one. Now it is a ferocious island where, it seems, it is every man for himself.

So you may think you are right in everything you say; you may even be right. But it takes bigger person to recognise the teacher behind the idea; the teacher tentatively stepping on to the beach, finding their way. It takes a bigger person to welcome all to the debate. Our humanity is based on how we treat others. Social media should be no different. If we don’t consider that, like the characters in ‘Lord of the Flies’, as soon as proper adult turns up, you just look like little boys again.


Briefing on Gaelic Education⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

The latest Briefing on Gaelic Education is now available.

Seo fiosrachadh ur:

https://www.education.gov.scot/improvement/gael4-briefings-on-gaelic-education

 

Western Isles Council – extensive apprenticeship offer⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and partners will publish an extensive list of over 40 apprenticeships which will see posts created from the Butt to Barra, across a wide range of sectors and departments including:

  • Business Administration
  • Business Management
  • Community Development
  • Child Care
  • Education Attainment
  • Gaelic language assistants
  • Health and Social Care
  • Heritage
  • Human Resource
  • Multi-Media
  • Outdoor/Indoor Education
  • Roads maintenance
  • Sustainable Resource Management
  • Sport and health
  • Motor Mechanics

The Comhairle will be hosting community meetings throughout the Western Isles to provide full information on the above apprentices. Dates have yet to be confirmed but these meetings will take place the week commencing Monday 5th June 2017 and further details will be publicised closer to the time.

Cllr Angus McCormack, Chairman of Education, Sport and Children’s Services, said:       “This is a fantastic opportunity for people from the Butt to Barra to earn whilst they learn, and very importantly – to do so in their own areas. This ties in very well indeed to the Comhairle’s aims to reverse depopulation, provide our people with the opportunity to remain in their communities, whilst also contributing to the economy. I would encourage those who speak Gaelic and also those who have a particular interest in land management and crofting to keep express their interest in these apprenticeships. I would reiterate once again that the apprenticeships are open to anyone, not just young people, and anyone who feels that they may be interested should register at www.myjobscotland.gov.uk and setup an alert for the job category “Modern Apprenticeships/Trainee” where they will receive notifications by e-mail as soon as the Comhairle’s Apprenticeships posts go live.

“The Comhairle is committed to workforce planning and having a sustainable platform for the future, to help our communities and our islands to flourish and we will continue to work hard to ensure that we achieve these aims.”

The Scottish Attainment Challenge within overall school improvement⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

By Graeme Logan, Strategic Director, Education Scotland

We have a once in a career opportunity to make a significant breakthrough for children living in poverty in Scotland through the Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC). The areas for improvement highlighted in our recent report ‘Quality and improvement in Scottish education 2012-2016’ (QuISE) report are all very relevant to our national mission to close the poverty-related attainment gap and to strive for excellence and equity for every child in Scotland.

SAC, including the Pupil Equity Fund (PEF), gives us the additional resources to transform children’s progress and attainment. I know that many headteachers I speak to are excited about the possibilities. They are also keen to make sure we make the best use of these resources.

At Education Scotland we aim to provide you with the best possible advice on what works. In addition to the inspection evidence in QuISE, our advice includes access to a Scottish version of the Education Endowment Foundation’s Learning and Teaching Toolkit, and also our own Interventions for Equity, which shares a range of interesting examples and approaches from Scottish schools which have been involved with the SAC programmes.

Other significant changes we have introduced this year will also help. These include clarity on the model of assessment for the broad general education, which is teacher judgement of children’s achievement of Curriculum for Excellence levels, informed by a range of evidence and high quality moderation.  This demonstrates the value and trust placed in our teachers to make overall judgements about children’s progress. In doing this, teachers helped us to create the new Benchmarks for literacy and numeracy, which clarify the national standard for the achievement of each level.

We are taking a broad definition of the attainment gap and are not just considering statistics on overall attainment in isolation. If we are to achieve the vision of Curriculum for Excellence we need to think about achievement in a range of areas too. Earlier this year I spoke to around 2,000 headteachers from every part of the country in a series of events. We encouraged them to think about the attainment gap in the context of five key areas:

  • Attendance
  • Attainment
  • Exclusion
  • Engagement
  • Participation

The first three may seem more obvious and in some respects easier to measure. However, engagement and participation are equally as important for children’s progress and development. Some schools have started to track all five areas, for example, observing the extent of children’s active engagement in learning through use of tools such as the Leuven Scale of Engagement.  They have also started to track the extent to which children participate in the school’s wider curriculum and wider offer.

Schools will not be able to make the breakthrough we want to see for children living in poverty on their own. Many third sector and partner organisations are making a major contribution to improving children’s progress and engagement, and there are examples on the National Improvement Hub; type ‘Scottish Attainment Challenge’ into the search box to see all our resources.

One of the most important partnerships is that with families and communities. In the first year of the Challenge this was the area in which we saw least activity, and we’re actively looking at how we can change that. Our Review of Family Learning provides a good evidence base and recommendations for ways in which family learning can be developed within communities.

With inspection looking at attainment (QI 3.2) from August, including how schools are using PEF to close the gap, now is a good time to self-evaluate your approach to attainment. We will be particularly interested in the rationale and initial decision making for the use of PEF, as we believe that this will be key to ensuring that the most effective interventions are selected for each individual school and community context.

Online collaboration is also a key feature of the Scottish Attainment Challenge. Our Yammer group on Glow for headteachers has over 1,000 members! The largest ever online collaboration between Scottish headteachers. My keynote presentation from the pupil equity conferences is available on the Yammer group. Further key materials will be shared through the Yammer group too. I am currently preparing a keynote presentation for our September Curriculum for Excellence conferences for headteachers. During this presentation I will discuss ways in which curriculum flexibility and curriculum design can be used to close the gap. I will also share the most effective approaches attainment advisors have shared and also draw on the key strengths from schools where HM Inspectors have evaluated the new QI on raising attainment and achievement.

Closing the poverty-related attainment gap is a national endeavour and something which many teachers feel passionate about. For many the main reason they entered the profession was to make the biggest difference to children’s chances in life, particularly those who live in poverty. Reflecting on QuISE’s five priorities for improvement, as well as the specific focuses of SAC, will help ensure the success of our drive to remove the pattern between lower attainment and living in poverty.

QuISE’s five improvement priorities are an excellent place to start.

New release: Career Education Standard (3-18) – Implementation review⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Education Scotland has undertaken a national review on the implementation of the Career Education Standard (3-18) since its release in September 2015.  The review also incorporated reflections on the Work Placements Standard and School/Employer Partnership Guidance.

The standards and the guidance were published with the understanding that Education Scotland would evaluate the impact the documents were having, in light of experience and use.  In response a team from Education Scotland visited 29 secondary schools between December 2016 and March 2017. The evidence from nine secondary school inspections and 30 Career Information Advice and Guidance (CIAG) reviews also recorded evidence about the implementation of the standards in secondary schools.  An online survey was established to maximise the participation of as many people and organisations as possible for the review.  In addition, a bespoke survey for employers, delivered on behalf of Education Scotland by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), attracted further responses. Questions on the review of the standards and guidance were also included in the annual Skills Development Scotland (SDS) Headteachers survey.

In summary, the purpose of the review was to ascertain answers to the following questions:

  1. To what extent have the standards and guidance been implemented and has the pace of implementation been sufficient in order to direct the next stage of activity and focus? There was a particular focus on the CES and how it was being implemented in secondary schools, alongside the expansion of the SDS service offer.
  2. Are the standards and guidance ambitious enough to deliver the aspirations of the DYW strategy?

You can access the complete report here.

SDS news: National STEM event at South Lanarkshire Council⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Uddingston Grammar Head Teacher John McKay, Frank, SDS Careers Adviser Donna Robertson and SDS Acting Director of Operations James Russell.

Frank Devine, SDS Careers Adviser at Uddingston Grammar School, tells us more about a recent event supporting teachers to encourage young people to consider STEM careers.  ‘We understand the influential role teachers play in young people’s careers choices.

Part of our role as Scotland’s national careers service is to ensure we work closely with, and support teachers to, offer the support young people need to make informed career decisions.  That was the main driver behind our recent Career Gap event.   Working with South Lanarkshire Council’s Developing the Young Workforce co-ordinator as well as a group of local teachers, our aim was to give teachers across the area help to support pupils to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.

More than 50 attended, from 18 local area secondary schools.

By tapping in to the wealth of expertise and knowledge on offer across SDS, we were able to offer a full day programme looking at the subject from a variety of angles – equalities, career management skills and employer need.

Our National Training Programmes team supported the day to raise awareness of the ways unconscious bias could be stopping some pupils, especially young women, progressing in STEM.

They brought in Improving Gender Balance Scotland project officer Charlotte Govan to give some cold hard numbers on subject uptake, and the impact that has further down on employment, as well as practical ways of combatting unconscious bias.

Our employer team helped to put us in touch with employers and apprentices to tell teachers their stories, offer ideas on support that could be helpful to pupils now, and talk about what it’s really like to work in STEM industries. BT, BAE and Scotland Energy and Utility Skills all attended on the day.

My colleague Donna Robertson and I were able to give more information on career management skills, career long professional learning modules we offer, the support resources available to teachers via My World of Work and more detail on SDS careers services in schools.

All the teachers who attended took away packs with more information on the support SDS offers, and we’ll be creating further lesson plans and resources to share with all the teachers who attended.

This wasn’t just a chance at CPD for teachers, but offered us the chance to develop the skills of young people from the area too. Recent graduate Stephen Benedetti lent his sound engineer skills for the podium and round table mics, and sixth year Uddingston pupil Adam McKibben snapped pictures for us on the day which were used on the SDS website and social media.

Partnership working was key to the success of the event, as it is to all the work SDS is involved in.

Donna and I are really proud of the strength of the partnerships we have here in South Lanarkshire.  We work closely with all members of the school staff, including subject teachers, pastoral care teachers and the senior management team, the local authority and with partner organisations working within education and with our customers across the area.

It’s those strong partnerships that allow us to stage not just major one-off events like this, but to ensure day-to-day we are offering the best service we can to our customers.

Our recent Education Scotland review shows our hard work is paying off.

If you want to find out more about the support SDS can offer teachers, speak to your school careers adviser for latest information and events and find out about support resources we offer at My World of Work here.

You can also access CLPL modules on the Career Education Standard, labour market information, career management skills and My World of Work at this page.