Russell vows to listen to the classroom
The people involved in our nurseries, schools, colleges and universities are the people who know best. No teacher, pupil, parent, auxiliary or janitor with thoughts on how we can make things better will go unheard, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning said today.
Education Secretary Michael Russell was speaking during today's stakeholder event held at Heriot Watt University which involved more than 160 delegates from across all education sectors. The event was held specifically for Mr Russell to meet the people delivering education in Scotland and hear their thoughts and ideas on ways forward.
Speaking to delegates, Mr Russell said:
"Becoming a teacher was a long term career ambition for my father. He realised his ambition in the 1960s during one of the 'booms' in the 'boom and bust' teacher recruitment cycle that Scotland has been plagued with for far too long. A cycle which we must bring to an end.
"For the last 20 years of his working life he taught in a variety of schools with commitment and enthusiasm. However, one of his observations was about listening. He felt that the real knowledge of what schools needed to do lie not in civil servants, not in educational administrators, not in councillors or ministers, and not in trade unions. It lies in the classroom, however, nobody listened to the classroom.
"Well I want to listen to the classroom. I also want to listen to parents and children. I want to listen to classroom assistants, auxiliaries and janitors, and those who help out in myriad ways in every one of our schools. This is the way in which I want to engage and communicate with all our sectors, from pre-school to further and higher education.
"To do so, we need new means of direct conversation. That is why I have asked my officials to develop a direct line of communication for me, as Cabinet Secretary, for Adam as the Minister for Children and Early Years and for Keith, Minister for Schools and Skills. This may be a website where comment can be left, ideas suggested and criticism made. But whatever it is, it will be for those who don't presently think they are heard. Those who have ideas and thoughts. Those who know what they are talking about.
"And I will guarantee that these voices will be listened to. As ministers we will pay heed. And we will make sure the best of this new thinking improves everything we try and do. So if you have a suggestion that will make a difference - join in!"
Stakeholders who attended the event included: headteachers, teachers, probationary teachers, Student Teachers, National Parents Forum Members, pupils, looked after children, students from Further and Higher Education, Scottish Youth Parliament, COSLA representatives, council leaders and union representatives.