I recently attended this conference to present papers from the GTCS in partnership with Glasgow University and SCEL. The presentations focused on the recent research Gillian Hamilton and I had been involved in with our colleagues in Glasgow on sustaining teacher professional learning and models of leadership and learning in Scotland. We are also hoping that these papers will be published in the near future.
ICET’s main focus is to promote high quality education for all learners and to improve the learning experiences and outcomes for all learners across the world by providing opportunities for those involved in their education to share knowledge, practice, resources, expertise and to build strategic partnerships. The conference was an opportunity to do exactly that by bringing educators from all over the world to Ontario for three days to focus on high quality teaching and learning. Organising a conference of this size and magnitude is not easy and there had been considerable difficulties with visas for colleagues from Nigeria which had resulted in headaches for the organisers and non attendance for some of the Nigerian educators. However colleagues from Pakistan, Portugal, Jamaica, America, Canada, Uganda, England and Australia were among the delegates at the conference and all brought such interesting and diverse experiences and perspectives.
I attended several seminars led by Nigerian educators, there was a strong focus on Inclusion and Justice, research findings were presented about the educational issues for street children and learners with special needs and how counselling strategies can enable and empower these children. There was also a really interesting session about the remaining British influence in many of the Nigerian schools and how this leads the children and young people in Nigeria to be confused about their cultural identity and can lead to a perception that British and American values and culture are the way to be successful in this world often to the detriment of their own indigenous culture.
It was inspiring to listen to the experiences of educators in Uganda who shared with us their progress in retaining girls in school who become pregnant. In Uganda the leading cause for girls to drop out of school and fail to re-enter is pregnancy. Almost 12% of girls between 15 and 19 years were pregnant while 19% had given birth and almost 20% were married. The researchers from Uganda were exploring a systematic solution to the continuing education of these girls which would be acceptable to all those involved including the government
There were many more stories from various parts of the world relating to the impact of poverty on the educational opportunities and chances for children and young people and though we see this also in Scotland we do not have systemic opposition to education, particularly for girls, that many other parts of the world experience.
From the conference in Oshawa I travelled with my colleague John Daffurn from the Scottish College of Educational Leadership (SCEL) to Ontario where we had meetings with the Ministry of Education and the Ontario Principals College. We discussed the Ministry’s initiative to improve the achievement of all students in Ontario’s publicly funded schools and about teacher professional learning to support these initiatives. What was very impressive was the significant amounts of money from the Canadian government to invest in teacher learning and leadership development across Canada and how this is informed by research and literature. Michael Fullan and Ken Leithwood, both leading writers in these areas, inform and guide the Ministry and support with policy development.
I particularly liked how the Ministry of Education had researched what the learners thought about teaching and learning and what they were looking for in excellent teaching.
I think the learners in Scotland would share some of their Canadian peers’ reflections.
After these visits it was time to return to Edinburgh and though it was a short visit and a very packed timetable it was worthwhile in what I learned and also what the delegates learned from us about Scottish Education during the two seminars we presented and the professional discussions we engaged in our time in Canada.