A brand new Regional Improvement Plan for the Northern Alliance has been endorsed by Education Scotland, shared with the Scottish Government, shaped and tweaked by workstream leads alongside lead officer Helen Budge and is now available to view online.

The improvement collaborative brings together eight local authority areas and the new plan marks phase three of the Northern Alliance’s work since it was established. It will be refreshed and updated over time and explains how the work of those leading collaborative efforts to improve the life chances of children and young people will be focused on four key areas:

• Raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap
• Curriculum (bringing together experts in numeracy and literacy as well as modern foreign languages)
• Leadership
• Sustaining education (now taking in the expansion of e-learning opportunities to increase subject choice and equity of offering for all as well as the development of a Learning Estates Strategy for the entire network)

There are currently eight practitioners working on research and collaboration activities on behalf of the Northern Alliance, many of whom are seconded on a part-time basis to share best practice from their substantive posts within the various local authorities. The improvement collaborative is currently working to recruit to three new posts to bolster their capacity and are supported by Education Scotland’s Northern Team in developing outputs from their respective workstreams.

Lead officer Helen Budge who is also Director of Children’s Services for Shetland Islands Council has been participating in the ongoing work of the Northern Alliance alongside education directors from all eight local authorities since its inception.

She explained: “Our new plan offers the national context, details everything we have achieved to date, streamlines the many and varied areas of work we have been collaborating on and sets out our aims for 2020 and beyond.

“For example, we’ve created a toolkit to support teachers and practitioners with emerging literacy, we’ve developed a data-driven approach to assessing numeracy skills and led various events for colleagues, and we’re developing online training to support the teaching of modern languages. We’re now bringing all of that work together under one ‘Curriculum’ workstream so we can better share best practice and look at how best to support class teaching from a more holistic perspective.

“We’re a small yet passionate team with a lot of ambition to make a difference. It doesn’t work without the input of colleagues from across all eight local authorities so I’d also like to say a big thank you to all of those who have participated in the broad range of activities, research and assessment we’ve undertaken so far. There’s a lot more to come so please keep up to date and keep in touch.”

David Gregory who is Senior Regional Advisor for Education Scotland’s Northern Team added: “My team from Education Scotland is pleased to work alongside colleagues from across the Northern Alliance to encourage innovative thinking when it comes to improving children’s learning. We’re working flat out, whether that’s working directly with schools advising on attainment and how to make improvements, or sharing the latest work on STEM, digital learning, numeracy, literacy or improving the gender balance, the passion and commitment of teachers across the board continues to blow us away.”

Find out more: https://northernalliance.scot/ 

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