This inaugural International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI) Professional Learning Conference aimed to stimulate participants to reflect on the emerging empowerment agenda within Scottish education.
The conference was aimed at teachers and educational leaders in schools and local authorities, and was designed to explore the key emerging debates within Scottish education.
It was intended it to be a catalyst for a systemic conversation and debate within the profession to develop a shared understanding about what the future of an empowered Scottish education system might and should look like. So the defining question for the day was What should an empowered Scottish education system look like?
The conference was chaired by Professor Chris Chapman and introduced by Professor Margery McMahon from the University of Glasgow School of Education.
The event began with a keynote from the University of Glasgow’s world-leading educationalist Professor Mel Ainscow, CBE.
Summary by Professor Mel Ainscow
Keynote speech by Professor Mel Ainscow
The keynote was followed by three parallel interactive workshops led by leading figures in the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement communities and members of the First Minister’s International Council of Education Advisors. The sessions included a combination of input and provocation to stimulate reflective conversations about what it means to be an empowered educational professional.
A: Professional learning for an empowered education system
Led by Professor Carol Campbell
A key factor in developing an improving and empowered education system is valuing, respecting and developing education professionals’ knowledge and practices in order to support the students and communities to be served. This interactive workshop explored evidence concerning effective approaches to continuous professional learning and development, drawing on international research and evidence plus experiences and opportunities in Scotland. The need to consider and balance educators’ voices, choices and agency in their own professional learning and the use of school and system led professional development for priorities relating to student attainment and equity were discussed.
B: Empowered and effective leadership at all levels
Led by Professor Alma Harris
This interactive session focused on the ways in which leaders at all levels in the system can contribute to school and system change. It looked at how distributed leadership can be an empowering leadership approach, when used wisely and provided some international examples of teacher empowerment through professional collaboration. The session considered the challenges and benefits of greater participation in leadership along with the potential for greater professional empowerment and agency.
C: Empowered and effective learning systems
This workshop examined the implications of current education policy for how schools can fully realise the opportunities inherent in Curriculum for Excellence. The need to move from delivery and implementation approaches to improvement to a more dynamic learning culture was explored.
The conference was held at the Hilton Grosvenor Hotel, Glasgow, on Friday 21 February 2020.
It was supported by the University of Glasgow’s School of Education and Policy Scotland and all speakers offered their time on a pro-bono basis.