Started yesterday morning by running to catch the 0636 train from Broughty Ferry to Glasgow and ended it back at Broughty Ferry station on the 1730 train from Edinburgh. Rather then feeling tired at the end of a busy day I felt full of energy and even more enthusiastic about the future of education than usual. It had been a pretty good day with lots of progress across a number of fronts – finances, documenting systems, project milestones, recruitment etc (important to get this stuff right if you want to deliver anything). I had also had a good 30 minute leadership coaching session with Martyn Sakol of ER Consulting just before lunch but the main source of my optimism was from spending time with one of my favourite thinkers on education – Stephen Heppell.
Stephen Heppell has worked with LTS for many years and was once a non-executive director of our predecessor body SCET (The Scottish Council for Educational Technology). He been doing some work for LTS over the last couple of years. We have been exploring a slightly different kind of consultancy with him and I think it has been working really well. Yesterday Stephen was a keynote speaker at a Scottish Government conference on Schools of Ambition in Edinburgh. Last week he spoke at an event on Urban Learning Spaces at The Lighthouse in Glasgow. He was a keynote speaker at SLF07 and worked for LTS over full the two days and he will be back at SLF08. He has visited schools in Dundee, East Renfrewshire and East Lothian (amongst others). He held workshops for the LTS Glow and Curriculum for Excellence teams; provided an input to LTS senior management meetings; he has drawn our leading technology for learning innovators (including Ewan McIntosh and Derek Robertson) into UK wide events to help promote the work we are doing in Scotland … and much more.
We get three main things from from this consultancy. First of all we get another external view on how we are doing from someone who has a great overview – Stephen works with more than 20 countries and is an adviser to government ministers across the world. Secondly, we get the opportunity to influence developments and educational innovation beyond the usual reach of LTS. Thirdly we are seen to be associated with a leading thinker who wants to be associated with and involved in developments in Scotland.
Yesterday I had a couple of hours with Stephen to discuss progress and to look ahead over the next few months. We talked about how to make the most of the time he has left on his contract and what we might do to draw together his findings and insights from his work in Scotland. Probably the best way would be through his blog.
My favourite quote from Stephen is that ‘education inoculates children against poverty’. Inspirational stuff and an important reminder of the crucial role of education in improving the life chances of all of our children and young people.