Scottish Learning Festival 2015 raises the bar of achievement for all

John Muir Trust contributes positively towards education attainment mix in Scotland

Slf image by education scotland detail

The John Muir Trust was well represented last week at Scotland’s leading learning festival, showcasing its engagement work through the John Muir Award.

The Scottish Learning Festival, opened by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance, attracted over 6000 guests to Glasgow.

The theme was ‘Raising achievement and attainment for all’, with the Cabinet Secretary outlining Scottish Government plans to publish and implement a National Improvement Framework to help improve education outcomes for every child in Scotland.

Ms. Constance set out four main Framework priorities for all stakeholders in Scottish education: ‘to improve attainment – specifically in reading, writing and numeracy; to close the attainment gap between the most and the least disadvantaged children; to improve children and young people’s health and wellbeing; and to improve sustained school leaver destinations for all young people.’

The John Muir Trust has responded to the Scottish Government’s plans by demonstrating how the Trust’s main engagement initiative – the John Muir Award – can contribute to an ‘attainment agenda’. Download the full document here. In particular the Trust welcomes the commitment that this Framework "will not force teachers to teach to the test or take a narrow approach to the curriculum".

Toby Clark, John Muir Award Scotland Manager said, “The John Muir Award is a recordable outcome that can have a positive contribution to Scotland’s attainment mix – especially by engaging less advantaged pupils. We know that wild places can inspire nature connection, enjoyment and a feeling of protection towards our natural environment through outdoor learning in schools and colleges. We urge the Scottish Government to ensure a broad interpretation of attainment, and keep to the principles of Curriculum for Excellence.”

During the festival the John Muir Trust was showcased as an exemplar for piloting Education Scotland’s self-evaluation toolkit ‘How Good Is Our Third Sector Organisation?’ A seminar featured the Trust’s evaluation of the impacts of the John Muir Award. A summary of the John Muir Trust Case Study features here on the Education Scotland website. The seminar dovetailed with the festival’s launch of ‘How Good Is Our School 4?’, the Education Scotland framework for evaluating and inspecting schools. Both frameworks encourage partnership working across the sectors.

Elsewhere, longstanding John Muir Award Provider Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre delivered a workshop with Donibristle Primary School in Fife, demonstrating how the John Muir Award helps encourage hands-on connection with nature through residential and school grounds settings. This included a look at ‘why the John Muir Award is important, and what do people learn from their involvement’. View a short film here.

The workshop also looked at how a residential partnership approach with schools can help deliver education outcomes. Download a case study here focusing on Ardroy Outdoor Education centre in Argyll.

The John Muir Trust would like to thank all its partners in making the Scottish Learning Festival a success.