Council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly.
By Aileen MacLennan
Education Scotland has endorsed a professional teacher programme that was created by a team of education staff from Argyll and Bute Council.
The programme will be implemented at Hermitage Academy in Helensburgh and its feeder primary schools from Cardross to Rhu, Arrochar, Rosneath and beyond.
Jay Helbert, head teacher at Inveraray Primary, worked with colleagues to create a unique programme to support teachers in developing their own teaching practice through exploring their current methods and results, analysing literature and looking at good practice in other settings. This enables them to then create a personal and departmental action plan for improvement.
Mr Helbert, who carries the local authority remit for outdoor learning and developing and leading training for staff, said: “By placing teachers at the heart of the planning process, they have complete ownership of their own improvement and professional learning.
“What we have found is that the improvements they make are tailored to their own learners and that these improvements are sustained over time. Teaching is therefore improved, as is learning and pupil attainment.
“I received a huge amount of support from the council to take the programme forward, particularly from my local area education officer and the education manager. They actively encouraged me throughout the whole process and helped guide me in the right direction.
“This enabled us to take the programme to Education Scotland earlier this year and I am delighted that it has been endorsed by them, and added to their suite of programmes for teachers and educators. Although I wrote the programme initially, its evolution has been guided by staff at Inveraray, Glassary, Tayvallich and Carradale primary schools.”
Emma Cairns, deputy head of the Kintyre schools cluster, and Kirsten Rennie, principal teacher at Inveraray, helped shape the programme and they will be supporting the next step, which is to train experienced teachers, principal teachers, and depute heads to deliver the programme in their own schools.
The Council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: “This endorsement by Education Scotland is a quality mark of excellence in professional learning. It is a huge achievement to be able to offer a programme like this in our own educational settings but to be able to lead the way, and share our expertise to other educational professionals across Scotland, is phenomenal.
“James and the team have worked hard on this and I would like to sincerely congratulate them. We are committed to developing our staff and empowering head teachers to take on a strategic approach to staff improvement, and I look forward to seeing the programme in action. I wish them every success as they move to the next stage.”