Andrew Hall: Digital delivers in our classrooms

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Sumdog CEO Andrew Hall

This week marks National Digital Learning Week, an initiative organised by Education Scotland that aims to show how the use of digital technology can enhance learning and teaching, raise attainment and equip young people with important skills for the modern world of work. This year’s theme is “Digital Difference”, with teachers invited to share and celebrate the digital approaches that make a real difference in the classroom.

Coinciding with Digital Learning Week 2017, Sumdog has organised Scotland’s first ever nationwide online maths contest. Over 2000 individual classes from more than 500 schools across the length and breadth of Scotland are signed up to take part. Pupils work together as a class to answer correctly as many maths questions as they can over the period of the contest, which closes tomorrow. The overall winning class will be announced at a special event in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, May 24.

Sumdog is an education technology social enterprise headquartered in the west end of Edinburgh. Used in 88 countries worldwide, our game-based learning system is specifically designed to improve skills and attainment in maths and literacy and is carefully aligned to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence. It uses educational games to motivate students in maths, reading and writing.

Sumdog’s unique learning engine gets to know each student, leading them through the curriculum while enabling their teacher to monitor their progress and target help where it’s most needed. With each new skill they master through Sumdog, pupils can earn rewards. The virtual pets they adopt can learn fun new tricks and each correct answer earns a virtual coin which can be spent in Sumdog’s on-screen store.

Most importantly of all, Sumdog is having a meaningful impact on addressing educational attainment in half of all Scottish schools where it is now regularly used. A recent study in Glasgow Council schools shows the huge potential of digital tools like Sumdog. Over a period of six months, the study found that those pupils using Sumdog at least one hour per week progressed three times faster in improving their maths than those who used it very little or not at all.

With a majority of pupils participating in the Glasgow study coming from areas of high deprivation, there is strong evidence that digital tools like Sumdog can make a serious contribution towards meeting the Scottish Government’s mission to close the attainment gap between pupils from the most and least deprived backgrounds.

With digital tools making an increasingly important contribution to modern teaching practices in our schools, National Digital Learning Week is a great opportunity to share positive experiences and to encourage the wider use of digital technology to enhance teaching and improve learning outcomes.

To find out more about National Digital Learning Week, visit http://www.digilearn.scot.

Read more at: http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/opinion/andrew-hall-digital-delivers-in-our-classrooms-1-4447242

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Let’s empower our learning disabled to lead on change

People with additional needs are helping to make their services and communities better says James Fletcher, director of the Association for Real Change Scotland (ARC)

People with additional needs are helping to make their services and communities better says James Fletcher, director of the Association for Real Change Scotland (ARC)

This week is learning disability awareness week with the theme ‘looking back, thinking forward.’ To mark this, members of the National Involvement Network, a group of over 80 people with learning disabilities or support needs, have decided to hold a unique event in Glasgow called “Hear our voice; 10 years of leading change in our services and communities.’

The event will planned and delivered entirely by people with additional needs with support from ARC Scotland and will be attended by over 180 people who can help shape the future of social care in Scotland.

It will celebrate the remarkable achievements of the members of the National Involvement Network in becoming leaders of change, and highlight their ground-breaking publication the Charter for Involvement.

The Charter for Involvement sets out in their own words how they want to be involved in decisions made about their services and communities.  It does this in a practical and straightforward way that can be understood by everybody.

It avoids the jargon and over-complication that is often introduced by professionals and is a barrier to meaningful involvement and co-production.

Their work has become part of the DNA of Scotland’s social care sector and has already helped to improve the lives of hundreds of supported people across the country.  At this week’s event, a further three organisations will formally commit to putting the Charter into practice- bringing the total to over 50 organisations that are now doing this.

This is making a real difference to work practice and culture within social care organisations and health and social care partnerships in areas such as staff recruitment, training, policy-making and governance.

It is telling that over the past year, members of the National Involvement Network have chosen to focus their attention on speaking with people who have communication difficulties about their experiences of living in their communities.  They have developed a specialised ‘Talking Mats’ framework to do this, and some have undergone training to use it.

Through this work they have helped people to connect with their community resources, such as church and cinema and to express ways in which the support they receive can be improved.

For the members of the National Involvement Network, learning disability awareness week is an opportunity to celebrate their remarkable achievements over the past 10 years.

Lynnette Linton, Chair of the National Involvement Network said “We would like delegates attending the conference to learn what involvement means from the point of view of people who receive support. We hope they will be inspired and motivated to find new ways to hear and include the voices of people who use support services.”

The event is also an opportunity to look to the future and consider how supported people themselves can help social care organisations and the communities they work in to address and adapt to the very real challenges they face.

Learning form the experience of people who receive support (and those who need it but don’t get it) must surely be the foundation for informing the changes still to come within this sector. As Lynnette Linton put it, ‘In future involvement won’t be special, it will just be natural.’

Fortunately, there is a willingness amongst many people to share their experiences in and contribute to finding solutions to sometimes complex issues, such as budget cuts and managing risk.

This valuable resource has yet to be fully realised. To do this, people tell us they must first feel listened to and respected, and to clearly understand how their views will influence the decisions being made.

Meaningful involvement and co-production takes time to do properly, will not always give the answers that are hoped for and may challenge professional assumptions.  However the result is support and community services that are centred around the people that use them.

By this time next year the National Involvement Network aim to have 100 organisations signed up to the Charter for Involvement, and to extend their work to communities out-with the central belt.

 

Council election a sign of things to come as the constitution continues to dominate

Orbit Communications - Alex Orr 01
Managing Director, Alex Orr, @Alex_m_orr

The votes are in and counted and 1,227 councillors have been elected across 353 wards in 32 local authorities. The dust has now begun to settle and the horse-trading as to who will run these administrations is well underway.

It was the SNP who clearly won these local elections. They have more councillors, 431, and are the largest party in half of Scotland’s councils. The Tories scored big, making significant gains, increasing their number by 164 from 2012 to 276 councillors. Labour slipped back badly, losing 133 councillors to stand at 262. Indeed, the Conservatives have leapfrogged Labour in terms of councillor numbers and can also be counted as winners, in terms of momentum.

In terms of numbers, there have been boundary changes which mean that some comparisons are made with “notional” outcomes in 2012, the last time these councils were contested. On that count, the SNP performed at the lower level of expectations are notionally down by a fractional seven seats. However, in terms of absolute numbers, the SNP have ended up with more councillors than in 2012. Plus the SNP are the largest party in Scotland’s four largest cities – including Glasgow, where jubilant supporters attended their ousting of Labour.

The Conservatives registered gains pretty well everywhere in Scotland, more than doubling their number of councillors and are the largest party in six councils – Aberdeenshire, Dumfries and Galloway, East Renfrewshire, Perth and Kinross, Scottish Borders and South Ayrshire, without taking charge of any council. Indeed, Scotland is now No Overall Control territory – with the exception of the Highlands and Islands where the Independents hold sway.

You knew it was going to be a good day for Ruth Davidson’s party when they picked up a Council seat in Gordon Brown’s backyard of Cowdenbeath and other previous no-go areas such as the Highlands, where they picked up seats for the first-time in 22 years and Glasgow, where they picked up seven seats, including a councillor in Shettleston, one of Scotland’s most deprived communities.

The Liberal Democrats mostly held steady – although, sometimes, that was from a decidedly low existing base. But they drew attention to relatively good results in areas where they have Westminster election hopes. The Greens added seats.

The results further reinforce the fact that it is the independence question that dictates Scottish voting behaviour, with every election now see through the prism of the constitutional question.

Ms Davidson led a campaign that was unashamedly about stopping the SNP’s drive for a referendum rather than about local issues. It was inevitable given this that it was the Conservatives who were set to make strong gains, at the expense of both the SNP and to a greater extent the Labour Party. The Tories are now firmly positioned as the main opposition to a second independence referendum.

It is inevitable that these voting patterns will again dominate the General Election, although with a different result because of the first-past-the-post system used at Westminster, which is likely to see the SNP emerge as the clear winners.

Until it is off the table every future election in Scotland – council, Scottish Parliament and Westminster – will be dominated by the constitutional question, the very situation those who voted Conservative wanted to avoid.

Council elections – blue surge as horse trading lies ahead

Orbit Communications - Alex Orr 01
Managing Director, Alex Or,  @Alex_M_Orr

Key highlights – 32 out of 32 councils declared

  • Major surge by the Tories saw them increase their number of councillors by 164 from 2012, to 276. Now the largest party in six councils – Aberdeenshire, Dumfries & Galloway, East Renfrewshire, Perth & Kinross, Scottish Borders and South Ayrshire.
  • SNP has performed at the lower end of expectations, losing 7 seats when compared with 2012 and currently stands at 431. Despite being the largest party in Glasgow, Edinburgh and 16 other councils, it has lost overall control of Dundee and Angus
  • Labour has lost 133 councillors compared with 2012, currently standing at 262 and losing overall control of West Dunbartonshire and South Lanarkshire.
  • Greens and Liberal Democrats flatline.

(due to boundary changes changes in councillor numbers are based on notional outcomes for 2012)

Well, the votes are in and counted and the 1,227 councillors elected across 353 wards in 32 local authorties. You knew it was going to be a good day for the Conservatives when they picked up a Council seat in Gordon Brown’s backyard of Cowdenbeath and other previous no-go areas such as the Highlands and Glasgow.

The Conservatives have indeed made significant gains when compared to the last elections in 2012 and look set to leapfrog the Labour Party in terms of councillor numbers

With elections in Scotland now seen through the prism of the constitutional question, it is only natural that this has been a key focus of each and every election since the independence referendum of 2014. It was inevitable given this and their strong anti-independence, anti-referendum rhetoric, that it was the Conservatives who were set to make strong gains through tactical voting, at the expense of both the SNP and to a greater extent the Labour Party.

There are now dilemmas across the country, with many councils such as Clackmannanshire, Aberdeen and Edinburgh witnessing the SNP as being the largest party as the Tories gain and Labour lose, but with the need to form a coalition or a method of governing.

A weekend and further days of horse-trading now lie ahead in Councils where parties have failed to achieve an overall majority and in which there is currently no overall control. With the SNP pledged not to form coalitions with the Conservatives, there could be some interesting alliances forged, which may see SNP, despite having the largest number of councillors still lose out to a pro-Unionist alliance

Party Councils +/- since 2012 Seats +/- since 2012
SNP -3 431 -7
Conservatives 276 +164
Labour -3 262 -133
Liberal Democrat 67 -3
Greens 19 +5
Independent 3 172 -26
UKIP
No overall control 29 +5

Individual Councils – numbers in brackets refer to 2012 results

Council SNP Labour Cons Lib Dem Greens Ind Control
Aberdeen City 19 (+3) 9 (-9) 11 (+8) 4 (-1) 0 0 No overall control
Aberdeenshire 21 (-8) 1 (-1) 23 (+9) 14 (+2) 0(-1) 10 (-2) No overall control
Angus 9 (-6) 0 (-1) 8 (+5) 2 (+1) 0 9 (+1) No overall control
Argyll & Bute 11 (-2) 0 9(+5) 6(+2) 0 10 (-5) No overall control
Clackmannanshire 8 (-) 5 (-3) 5 (+4) 0 0 0 (-1) No overall control
Dumfries and Galloway 11 (-) 11 (-1) 16 (+3) 1 (-) 0 4 (-2) No overall control
Dundee City 14 (-2) 9 (-1) 3 (+2) 2 (+1) 0 1 (-) No overall control
East Ayrshire 14 (-1) 9 (-5) 6 (+4) 0 0 3 (+2) No overall control
East Dunbartonshire 7 (-1) 2 (-5) 6 (+4) 6 (+3) 0 1 (-2) No overall control
East Lothian 6 (-3) 9 (+1) 7 (+4) 0 0 0 (-2) No overall control
East Renfrewshire 5 (-1) 4 (-2) 7 (+2) 0 0 2 (+1) No overall control
City of Edinburgh* 19 (-2) 12 (-9) 18 (+7) 6 (+3) 8 (+1) No overall control
Falkirk 12 (-1) 9 (-4) 7 (+) 0 0 2 (-1) No overall control
Fife 29 (+4) 24 (-10) 15 (+12) 7 (-3) 0 0 (-3) No overall control
Glasgow City 39 (+8) 31 (-16) 8 (+7) 7 (+3) 0 (-1) 0 (-1) No overall control
Highland* 22 (+3) 3 (-5) 10 (+10) 10 (-4) 1 (+1) 28 (-5) No overall control
Inverclyde 7 (-) 8 (-3) 2 (+1) 1 (-1) 0 4 (+3) No overall control
Midlothian 6 (-2) 7 (-1) 5 (+5) 0 0 (-1) 0 (-1) No overall control
Moray 9 (-1) 1 (-2) 8 (+5) 0 0 8 (-2) No overall control
Na h-Eileann Siar 7 (+1) 0 (-3) 1 (+1) 0 0 23 (+1) Ind Hold
North Ayrshire 11 (-4) 11 (-2) 7 (+6) 0 0 4 (-) No overall control
North Lanarkshire* 33 (+3) 32 (-12) 10 (+10) 0 0 2 (-1) No overall control
Orkney 0 0 0 0 1 (+1) 20 (-1) Ind Hold
Perth & Kinross 15 (-2) 1 (-3) 17 (+7) 4 (-1) 0 3 (-1) No overall control
Renfrewshire 19 (+2) 13 (-11) 8 (+7) 1 (-) 0 2 (+2) No overall control
Scottish Borders 9 (-) 0 15 (+5) 2 (-4) 0 8 (-1) No overall control
Shetland 1 (+1) 22 (-1) Ind Hold
South Ayrshire 9 (+2) 5 (-4) 12 (+2) 0 0 2 (-) No overall control
South Lanarkshire 27 (+1) 22 (-10) 14 (+10) 0 1 (-) 0 (-1) No overall control
Stirling 9 (-1) 4 (-4) 9 (+5) 0 1 (-) 0 No overall control
West Dunbartonshire 10 (+3) 8 (-3) 2 (+2) 0 0 2 (-2) No overall control
West Lothian 13 (-2) 12 (-4) 7 (+6) 0 0 1 (-1) No overall control

*Boundary changes have occurred here. 2012 seats are an estimate of what the result would have been then if the new boundaries had been in place.

Council elections – blue surge as horse trading lies ahead

Key highlights – 32 out of 32 councils declared

  • Major surge by the Tories saw them increase their number of councillors by 164 from 2012, to 276. Now the largest party in six councils – Aberdeenshire, Dumfries & Galloway, East Renfrewshire, Perth & Kinross, Scottish Borders and South Ayrshire.
  • SNP has performed at the lower end of expectations, losing 7 councillors when compared with 2012 and currently stands at 431. Despite being the largest party in Glasgow, Edinburgh and 14 other councils, it has lost overall control of Dundee and Angus.
  • Labour has lost 133 councillors compared with 2012, currently standing at 262 and losing overall control of West Dunbartonshire and South Lanarkshire.
  • Greens and Liberal Democrats flatline.

(due to boundary changes drops and increases in councillor numbers are based on notional outcomes for 2012)

Well, the votes are in and counted and the 1,227 councillors elected across 353 wards in 32 local authorities. You knew it was going to be a good day for the Conservatives when they picked up a Council seat in Gordon Brown’s backyard of Cowdenbeath and other previous no-go areas such as the Highlands and Glasgow.

The Conservatives have indeed made significant gains when compared to the last elections in 2012 and look set to leapfrog the Labour Party in terms of councillor numbers

With elections in Scotland now seen through the prism of the constitutional question, it is only natural that this has been a key focus of each and every election since the independence referendum of 2014. It was inevitable given this and their strong anti-independence, anti-referendum rhetoric, that it was the Conservatives who were set to make strong gains through tactical voting, at the expense of both the SNP and to a greater extent the Labour Party.

There are now dilemmas across the country, with many councils such as Clackmannanshire, Aberdeen and Edinburgh witnessing the SNP as being the largest party as the Tories gain and Labour lose, but with the need to form a coalition or a method of governing.

A weekend and further days of horse-trading now lie ahead in Councils where parties have failed to achieve an overall majority and in which there is currently no overall control. With the SNP pledged not to form coalitions with the Conservatives, there could be some interesting alliances forged, which may see SNP, despite having the largest number of councillors still lose out to a pro-Unionist alliance

Party Councils +/- since 2012 Seats +/- since 2012
SNP -3 431 -7
Conservatives 276 +164
Labour -3 262 -133
Liberal Democrat 67 -3
Greens 19 +5
Independent 3 172 -26
UKIP
No overall control 29 +5

Individual Councils – numbers in brackets refer to 2012 results

Council SNP Lab Cons Lib Dem Grns Ind Control
Aberdeen City 19(+3) 9(-9) 11(+8) 4(-1) 0 0 No overall control
Aberdeenshire 21(-8) 1(-1) 23(+9) 14(+2) 0(-1) 10(-2) No overall control
Angus 9(-6) 0(-1) 8(+5) 2(+1) 0 9(+1) No overall control
Argyll & Bute 11(-2) 0 9(+5) 6(+2) 0 10(-5) No overall control
Clackmannanshire 8(-) 5(-3) 5(+4) 0 0 0 (-1) No overall control
Dumfries and Galloway 11(-) 11(-1) 16(+3) 1(-) 0 4(-2) No overall control
Dundee City 14(-2) 9(-1) 3(+2) 2(+1) 0 1(-) No overall control
East Ayrshire 14(-1) 9(-5) 6(+4) 0 0 3(+2) No overall control
East Dunbartonshire 7(-1) 2(-5) 6(+4) 6(+3) 0 1(-2) No overall control
East Lothian 6(-3) 9(+1) 7(+4) 0 0 0(-2) No overall control
East Renfrewshire 5(-1) 4(-2) 7(+2) 0 0 2(+1) No overall control
City of Edinburgh* 19(-2) 12(-9) 18(+7) 6(+3) 8(+1) No overall control
Falkirk 12(-1) 9(-4) 7(+) 0 0 2(-1) No overall control
Fife 29(+4) 24(-10) 15(+12) 7(-3) 0 0(-3) No overall control
Glasgow City 39(+8) 31(-16) 8(+7) 7(+3) 0(-1) 0(-1) No overall control
Highland* 22(+3) 3(-5) 10(+10) 10(-4) 1(+1) 28(-5) No overall control
Inverclyde 7(-) 8(-3) 2(+1) 1(-1) 0 4(+3) No overall control
Midlothian 6(-2) 7(-1) 5(+5) 0 0(-1) 0(-1) No overall control
Moray 9(-1) 1(-2) 8(+5) 0 0 8(-2) No overall control
Na h-Eileann Siar 7(+1) 0(-3) 1(+1) 0 0 23(+1) Ind Hold
North Ayrshire 11(-4) 11(-2) 7(+6) 0 0 4(-) No overall control
North Lanarkshire* 33(+3) 32(-12) 10(+10) 0 0 2(-1) No overall control
Orkney 0 0 0 0 1(+1) 20(-1) Ind Hold
Perth & Kinross 15(-2) 1(-3) 17(+7) 4(-1) 0 3(-1) No overall control
Renfrewshire 19(+2) 13(-11) 8(+7) 1(-) 0 2(+2) No overall control
Scottish Borders 9(-) 0 15(+5) 2(-4) 0 8(-1) No overall control
Shetland 1(+1) 22(-1) Ind Hold
South Ayrshire 9(+2) 5(-4) 12(+2) 0 0 2(-) No overall control
South Lanarkshire 27(+1) 22(-10) 14(+10) 0 1(-) 0(-1) No overall control
Stirling 9(-1) 4(-4) 9(+5) 0 1(-) 0 No overall control
West Dunbartonshire 10(+3) 8(-3) 2(+2) 0 0 2(-2) No overall control
West Lothian 13(-2) 12(-4) 7(+6) 0 0 1(-1) No overall control

*Boundary changes have occurred here. 2012 seats are an estimate of what the result would have been then if the new boundaries had been in place.