Raising the bar at the SLF 2013


With the theme of Raising the Bar in Scotland, the Scottish Learning Festival 2013 takes place next month with a range of exhibitors, keynote speakers and workshops. SecEd takes a look at what’s on offer.

Scotland’s annual educational event, the Scottish Learning Festival (SLF), is taking place on September 25 and 26 at Glasgow’s SECC. 

Organised by Education Scotland, the theme of this year’s SLF is Raising the Bar in Scotland: Transforming lives through learning.

Visitors will have the opportunity to explore a wide range of practical approaches, resources and research aimed at improving achievement and attainment for all learners in Scotland. 

This will take the shape of more than 100 seminars, roundtable discussions, keynote addresses alongside the largest education-based exhibition in Scotland.

Each year, the SLF has a range of seminars, CPD and attractions aimed at everyone who contributes to the learning and development of Scotland’s children and young people, whether in schools, community learning, health, social work or the voluntary sector.

Attendees will have the opportunity to hear Michael Russell, the cabinet secretary for education and lifelong learning, deliver the opening address. In addition, three world-renowned educationalists will provide keynote speeches. They are:

  • Professor Andy Hargreaves, Thomas Moore Brennan Chair in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College.

  • Dr Avis Glaze, Edu-quest International Inc and former chief student achievement officer of Ontario.

  • Dr Pasi Sahlberg, director general, Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation, Finland.

Elsewhere, there will be two interactive roundtable discussion sessions taking place on the Thursday (September 26). One will be led by Professor Petra Wend, chair of the National Implementation Board for Teaching Scotland’s Future, and the other by Dr Bill Maxwell, chief executive of Education Scotland. These sessions provide delegates with the opportunity to engage in conversation and debate with some leading experts and colleagues and are usually one of the most popular parts of the festival (so booking in advance is recommended).

Information online

The SLF website has a wealth of information about this year’s event including the downloadable conference programme and timetable of presentations in the Education Showcase area. The dedicated exhibition website has the latest exhibitor list and floorplan too.

And for those who cannot make it to the SLF this year, social media will once again be used to extend the reach of the festival. Delegates can follow all the news from the event on the @EducationScot Twitter page or by searching for the hashtag #SLF13.

During SLF, the website will feature SLF Live, a one-stop-shop that brings together all the online discussions about SLF from a variety of channels, including live streaming of all the keynote presentations.

Keynote addresses

This year’s keynote addresses offer opportunities to hear from the Scottish government as well as inspirational educationalists.

Michael Russell, cabinet secretary for education and lifelong learning, will give the opening keynote address on the Wednesday (September 25) at 10:30am.

At 12:30pm on the same day, Professor Andy Hargreaves, Thomas Moore Brennan Chair in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, will deliver his keynote speech.

Scotland has a distinguished legacy that places a high value on education. It is associated far and wide with high standards and professional autonomy. But the country’s performance on international achievement tests has been questioned, and recent reviews suggest that the number of change ideas is inversely related to the success in implementing them. In his address, Prof Hargreaves will raise questions about the future of Scottish education and how we can learn from others.

The keynote programme on the Wednesday concludes with Dr Avis Glaze, former chief student officer in Ontario, Canada, and who is now with Edu-quest International Inc. 

Dr Glaze will argue the case for the excellence and equity imperative for school systems today. For her, education is the ultimate tool of empowerment and high levels of student outcomes is the true measure of equity. 

Dr Glaze will discuss an intentional approach to closing achievement gaps that allows educators to deliver on the promise of educating successfully within the context of diversity. Her belief is that ensuring that all students achieve at higher levels must be our shared purpose. Failure should no longer be an option given that we know what it takes to educate all children successfully, regardless of background or personal circumstances. 

On the Thursday, the SLF keynotes conclude with a speech from Dr Pasi Sahlberg, director general of Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation in Finland.

This presentation will reveal that the transformation of the education system in Scotland and other parts of the world is possible if education policies focus more on the whole child instead of academic performance, professional development instead of test-based accountability, and pedagogy instead of technology.

The Roundtable discussions

One roundtable discussion that is bound to be of interest to new teachers and experienced practitioners alike is Teaching Scotland’s Future: Changes to teacher education in Scotland.

This will be led by Professor Petra Wend, chair of the National Implementation Board for Teaching Scotland’s Future and vice-chancellor of Queen Margaret University. In this session, Prof Wend will touch upon the work that the National Implementation Board is overseeing while providing an opportunity to see how it will affect practitioners' own practice.

Another session – Launching Our Corporate Plan: Working with our partners to achieve our goals and eliminate inequity in educational outcomes – will be led by Education Scotland’s chief executive, Dr Bill Maxwell, alongside key partners. 

The discussion will aim to bring together key partners to debate Education Scotland’s new Corporate Plan. This should hopefully be a good opportunity to participate in a debate with key education leaders from across Scotland.

Seminar sessions

In addition to the roundtables, professional development seminars around the theme of Raising the Bar in Scotland: Transforming lives through learning will be presented by practitioners, pupils, key national figures and education authority staff. 

The SLF seminar programme features more than 100 sessions that aim to fit into the event’s core theme. Seminars will be presented by practitioners, pupils, key national figures and education authority staff. A full conference programme is available to view on the SLF website. 

SLF exhibition

The exhibition at SLF showcases more than 150 educational suppliers covering all levels of education. There aims to be a variety of different companies and other organisations, allowing visitors to view, compare, test and buy the latest educational technology, products and services. 

Delegates have the chance to meet well-established companies supplying some of the most innovative classroom resources. In addition, there is a whole host of companies exhibiting for the first time all with fresh ideas and products.

As part of the exhibition space, there are also a range of other features this year, including the following:

  • Delegates can visit the Education Scotland stand at the event to find out more about the work of Education Scotland through discussion and presentations by staff.

  • The Education Showcase area is a space where practitioners and young people from across Scotland will entertain delegates with presentations and demonstrations. A timetable of presentations is available on the SLF website.

  • The Local Authority Village is the ideal place to find out more about what is happening across Scotland. Practitioners and pupils from across Scotland will be on hand to demonstrate and talk about their work, resources and to share ideas.

  • The Community Learning and Development Village gives delegates the chance to meet a range of practitioners and organisations who are helping to deliver learning in the community.

  • The Cultural Village, led by Creative Scotland, showcases learning resources that can help young people to develop an understanding of Scotland’s culture.

  • New for 2013, the Exhibitor Seminars is a theatre dedicated to exhibitors, who will be using the space to present the benefits of their various products and services in a bid to show delegates how they can be of help to Scotland's schools.

Further information


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