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researchED Scotland Comes to Dollar Academy

On Saturday 22 September, Dollar Academy hosted the 2018 ResearchED Scotland conference. The campus was a busy and buzzing hub of education-related debate and discussion all day, as 260 educators and researchers mingled to ‘listen, speak, ask questions, make connections and enjoy themselves,’—in the words of Tom Bennett, Founder of ResearchEd. Thirty-two speakers from across the UK, representing schools, universities, researchers, authors, policy-makers and journalists came to deliver the ResearchED Scotland 2018 programme.

ResearchED is a ‘grass-roots non-profit’ organisation whose aims include seeking to ‘raise the research literacy of educators, bring together parties affected by educational research and explore “what works” in the field of education. In seeking to deliver a 21st century education for all, ResearchED has come to the fore (in conferences that now take place across the globe) in helping edcuators to ‘re-connect with evidence bases that can inform and help guide us to do what is best in education,’ writes Tom Bennett.

researchED Scotland 2018The programme of events at Dollar Academy was wide-ranging and rich offerings. Seven 40-minute workshops took place over the course of the day, and each session offered attendees a choice of at least 5 different talks. The day kicked off with Daisy Christodoulou speaking powerfully about the ‘Seven Myths of Education’, and the wealth of talks that followed were inspiring and thought-provoking. Carolina Kuepper-Tetzel spoke about ‘The Role of Metacognition in Education’ and Professor Mark Priestley offered a talk titled, ‘Milkmen or Educators? Teachers as curriculum makers’. Professor Robert Davies asked ‘Are school factories?’ and Dr Sarah McGeown discussed ‘Understanding the Science of Learning to Read’. Dollar Academy’s own Dean Campbell (Biology teacher) and Lorena McGookin (Business Studies teacher) gave a presentation on teacher feedback which was well received.

There were many, many more such workshops and talks which everyone seemed to agree were useful, interesting and full of practical observations and advice that could be applied in the classroom. ‘Most of the attention seems to be on Walter Hume,’ says Mr Robin Macpherson (Assistant Rector and organiser of last weekend’s conference), ‘who wrote a piece recently on the seven reasons why Scottish education is underperforming. The final debate looked at the future of Scottish education and called for, amongst other things, stronger political leadership and a more open culture of debate.’

‘I wish I could have attended more of the many really interesting presentations on offer,’ said one visiting teacher, ‘There is so much going on. There is a real sense for a big, important conversation taking place here—lots of conversations.’

‘It’s all relevant,’ said another visitor. ‘I’m listening to people who are experts in their fields, and I’m hearing things that will make me think and re-think about what I do in the classroom.’

The event caused a buzz on social media, too. It was the top trend on Twitter in Scotland that morning (hashtag #rEDScot) and in the top three all day. Craig Barton and Chris McGrane, speakers on Saturday, have posted a podcast on Mr Barton’s blog site that that offers some reflections on the conference as a whole. To listen, visit: http://www.mrbartonmaths.com/blog/conference-takeaways-researched-scotland-september-2018/

Everything on the day ran very smoothly indeed, and the many visitors saw the Dollar Academy campus looking its best under blue skies, the buildings basking in autumn sunlight. One group of teachers even travelled all the way from Romania to attend. Mr Macpherson (Assistant Rector and organiser of last weekend’s conference) commented, ‘Our team of pupil helpers was superb; they have been mentioned a lot in social media for their outstanding attitude and welcoming nature.’