Scottish Learning Festival 2018

Written by: Education Scotland | Published:
Hands-on: Scenes from last year’s Scottish Learning Festival. This year’s event takes place on September 19 and 20 in Glasgow (Image: Education Scotland)

The theme of this year’s Scottish Learning Festival is ‘collaborating for improvement’, with the usual range of CPD, seminars and exhibitors on show at next month’s event in Glasgow

Scotland’s leading educational event returns to Glasgow’s SEC in September. Whether you’re looking for inspiration, practical advice, new ideas or the chance to try the latest resources, the Scottish Learning Festival (SLF) is the largest education event in Scotland.

Taking place on Wednesday, September 19, and Thursday, September 20, the theme of this year’s event is collaborating for improvement, with a particular focus on:

  • Effective collaborations that ensure young people are having a greater say in decisions that affect their lives.
  • Strong STEM education and training that inspires learners and connects with the labour market.

Organised and hosted by Education Scotland, the national agency for improving quality and providing support to education practitioners, the festival provides opportunities to access high-quality and engaging professional learning, as well as opportunities to explore, discuss and exchange knowledge and ideas with professional colleagues and experts.

Over the years, the SLF has welcomed more than 55,000 visitors from across Scotland and beyond and organisers hope to welcome thousands more this year.

Gayle Gorman, the chief executive of Education Scotland, said: “The SLF is undoubtedly the most-wide ranging education event in Scotland. The combination of top quality keynote speakers, practical seminars and the exhibition makes it the ideal place to share thinking and discuss education.

“We’re excited to host what we’re sure will be another stimulating and thought-provoking experience for all who attend. I would encourage anyone with an interest in education to come along and make the most of this fantastic professional learning opportunity.”

Keynote addresses

Over the years, the SLF has hosted an impressive line-up of keynote speakers. This year’s offering includes keynotes from:

  • John Swinney MSP, the deputy first minister and cabinet secretary for education and skills.
  • Dr Jo Boaler, professor of mathematics Education, Stanford University.
  • Louise Macdonald, chief executive, Young Scot, the national youth information and citizenship charity for 11 to 26-year-olds in Scotland.

Delegates will have the opportunity to hear from John Swinney MSP when he delivers the SLF’s opening keynote on the Wednesday (September 19).

On the Wednesday afternoon, Dr Jo Boaler will share her thoughts and ideas on how numeracy can be taught through a mindset approach. Delegates will have the opportunity to think about the possibilities for their own teaching and they will hear Jo’s ideas for open and creative ways to teach numeracy that can be used across the curriculum.

The Wednesday finishes with Louise Macdonald exploring how education and learning can build on the Year of Young People using co-design to put power, influence and decision-making directly into the hands of our young people.


This year the SLF is introducing a new, interactive experience as part of the conference. Taking place on the Thursday (September 20), STEM Live will include demonstrations and inspirational keynote speeches.

Professor Louise Archer, Karl Mannheim Professor of Sociology of Education at University College London will be speaking at STEM Live when she will share findings from large-scale research to understand the key factors shaping young people’s science aspirations and engagement. Delegates will find out how we can improve young people’s engagement with STEM through a science capital approach.

Bringing STEM Live to a close is the award-winning scientist and science communicator, Dr Jamie Gallagher, who will explore how STEM subjects can be memorable, exciting and accessible for all. Delegates will discover how fusing science with storytelling, art and dance gives the chance for even the most science-phobic pupils and teachers to connect with the subject in new and interesting ways.

In addition to the keynotes, there will be two experiential demonstration sessions as part of STEM Live. Offering practical ideas that practitioners can replicate in their own settings, these sessions will aim to motivate and engage learners across STEM subjects and digital learning within early learning, primary, secondary and community settings.

Professional learning seminars

A key feature of the SLF is the range of professional learning seminars presented by practitioners and pupils from across Scotland.
Seminars cover a range of topics from inclusion to leadership and family learning. The full conference programme is available on the Education Scotland website. Highlights include:

  • Leading learning with pupils, parents and staff to breakdown the digital divide (Hazel Lynch, Aberdeen City Council, Wednesday, September 19, 9:30am).
  • Update on inspection and review (Janie McManus, Education Scotland, Wednesday, September 19, 9:30am).
  • Linking the maths curriculum to the world of work (Alessio Gusmeroli, Skills Development Scotland, Wednesday, September 19, 12:30pm).
  • National review of personal and social education (Maggie Fallon, Education Scotland, Wednesday, September 19, 2pm).
  • Just another brick in the wall? Effective, sustainable pupil participation in learning communities (Joanna Fell, Fife Council, Thursday, September 20, 9:30am).
  • Labour market information for teachers (Abigail Kinsella, Glasgow City Council, Thursday, September 20, 10:45am).
  • Self-improving Schools Programme, North Lanarkshire Council Education, Youth and Communities (Isabelle Boyd, North Lanarkshire Council, Thursday, September 20, 10:45am).
  • Online safety in school, what we need to know (Jess McBeath, University of Strathclyde, Thursday, September 20, 2:30pm).

The SLF exhibition

The SLF experience continues in the exhibition where more than 175 exhibitors will be showcasing their products and services. From those who are regular exhibitors, to a whole host of new companies exhibiting for the first time, delegates will have the chance to see a range of innovative resources and exciting ideas in the exhibition.

In addition to the range of exhibitors, the exhibition will also host a variety of features to try and showcase the resources, services and products. The Regional Improvement Collaborative Village is a great place to find out more about the work of the local authorities and the Regional Improvement Collaboratives.

The Exhibitor Seminar Theatre, meanwhile, will host a programme of presentations and demonstrations from a range of exhibitors.
And the Parental Engagement Village will be home to representatives from a range of parental engagement organisations and is the ideal place to find out more about the importance of parental involvement in young people’s education.

The exhibition will also play host to a number of festival favourites, including the Education Scotland stand where staff will be on hand to have a chat about the work of the organisation including inspection, digital learning and teaching and leadership.

Book your place

Seminars and keynote sessions are filling up fast but there’s still time to come along. Visit the Education Scotland website to find out more, select your seminars and book your place.

If you can’t come to the SLF, the keynotes will be shown live on the Education Scotland YouTube channel and will be available to watch after the festival. You will also be able to follow what’s happening at SLF on social media with the hashtag #SLF18.SecEd

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