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e-Sgoil

Delivering an education service in the islands and beyond

Words: Angus Maclennan, Headteacher e-Sgoil

Why e-Sgoil?

e-Sgoil has come about largely as a result of the determination of Bernard Chisolm, Director of Education and Children’s Services for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CNES). His vision is to promote equity in terms of curricular choice throughout the Outer Hebrides, enable all pupils to realise their full potential and thereby make island communities more sustainable.

The initial concept of e-Sgoil was devised in response to the impossibility of attracting a Maths teacher to the Isle of Barra last session. Due to the sterling work which has been done by our schools’ ICT team over the years, in getting all schools onto the same IT system, we are in a position where it is feasible to use digital technology to deliver the Maths curriculum between island schools in such a crisis. The success of this strategy was borne out by very good SQA results and positive HMI observations.

On another level, e-Sgoil is a recognition of the fact that the ways in which young people learn are evolving and changing at an unprecedented rate.

In order to set up e-Sgoil, funding totalling almost £1000 000 was secured from the Scottish Government, the local authority and Bòrd na Gàidhlig. As well as financing the refurbishment of the e-Sgoil building and enabling us to purchase IT equipment, this has already provided significant employment opportunities for managers, teachers, administrative staff and local contractors.

Whilst based in Stornoway, ongoing collaboration with Highland Region, Orkney and Shetland, Argyll and Bute, and Aberdeen City with regard to staff training, learning and teaching opportunities, and resources demonstrates that e-Sgoil has Scotland-wide relevance.

What will e-Sgoil be?

e-Sgoil will soon have a physical hub in the form of an impressive, refurbished, former school building on Francis Street, Stornoway. There will be a strong emphasis on the delivery of Gaelic Medium Education as well as ensuring equity of provision in a range of subjects including applied learning courses. By harmonising timetables and sharing teachers and resources, schools can work together to add value to what they deliver, especially at a time when reduced budgets and falling school roles are major concerns in rural areas. e-Sgoil will also be a mechanism which will enable schools and community groups to work together more effectively by facilitating opportunities for accessing archives, supporting drama and music or delivering training in, for example, child protection for organisations such as Western Isles Gaelic Arts Forum, Comuinn Eachdraidh or Duke of Edinburgh Awards. e-Sgoil will not be a driver in and of itself. We will be focusing on responding to demand from existing schools and community groups, helping the education system adapt to how pupils learn in the 21st century and delivering the Education and Children’s Services Department’s vision.

What are we doing at the moment?

Since August, we have been running a number of pilot projects through which we are establishing protocols and procedures relating to IT, pedagogy, training, SQA enrolments, etc. These pilots have included:

  • delivering Higher RMPS between island schools
  • facilitating S1 to S5 Gàidhlig lessons from the Outer Hebrides to Hazlehead Academy, Aberdeen
  • training groups of teachers to use technology at point of need
  • delivering Child Protection training to community groups
  • facilitating high-end music tuition from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to enhance local provision
  • providing online fiddle and brass tuition to remote primary schools
  • supporting the delivery of Gaelic Medium subjects
  • creating an online Advanced Higher Geography course
  • promoting online professional learning communities for subject networks
  • setting up an infrastructure for primary schools to engage in listening and talking activities as part of the government’s 1+2 language strategy.

What core technology do we use?

Glow, in its current incarnation, is much more reliable and user-friendly than it was originally. It is also a secure, Scotland-wide schools’ network which is underpinned by Microsoft so we are training teachers, on request, in the use of Office 365, Yammer, One Drive, etc. Vscene is the other tool of choice. To date, this video conferencing facility, which can be used on individual laptops or larger screens for bigger groups of pupils, has proved to be ideal for our purposes.

As with all new initiatives, there have been minor glitches but these have been ironed out and the feedback from pupils, parents and staff involved in the e-Sgoil pilots has been overwhelmingly positive.

What is e-Sgoil not trying to do?

A major challenge for us is to allay fears that come naturally with any change. e-Sgoil is not a mechanism to reduce teacher numbers. Along with all local authorities, CNES has an obligation, stipulated by the Scottish Government and COSLA, to maintain teacher numbers at 2014 levels. We are not advocating a totally online approach as pupils and teachers must have ongoing opportunities to meet face to face and establish relationships. e-Sgoil is evolving as a creative means of meeting the demands of constricting budgets, falling roles, a desire to promote equity and a response to the rapid change in the way our young people live and learn.

e-Sgoil: A’ lìbhrigeadh seirbheis-foghlaim sna h-eileanan agus nas fharsainge na sin

Briathran: Aonghas MacIllinnein, Ceannard e-Sgoil
Eadar-theangachadh: Anna Nicsuain

Carson e-Sgoil?

Thàinig e-Sgoil gu bith gu mòr mar thoradh air diongmhaltas Bhernard Siosalach, Stiùiriche an Fhoghlaim agus Seirbheisean Chloinne aig Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CNES). Is e an sealladh a tha aige cothromachd adhartachadh a thaobh roghainn sa churraicealaim air feadh nan Eilean an Iar, gus a dhèanamh comasach do na sgoilearan air fad an làn chomas a ruighinn agus mar sin a bhith a’ dèanamh choimhearsnachdan nan eilean nas seasmhaiche.Thàinig a’ bheachd airson e-Sgoil gu bith o thùs leis gun robh e a’ fàilneachdainn orra tidsear Matamataig fhaighinn ann am Barraigh an-uiridh.

Mar thoradh air an obair ion-mholta a chaidh a dhèanamh le sgioba ICT nan sgoiltean thar nam bliadhnaichean, ann a bhith a’ cleachdadh an siostam IT ceudna sna sgoiltean air fad, tha e comasach dhuinn teicneòlas didseatach a chleachdadh gus an curraicealam Matamataig a lìbhrigeadh eadar sgoiltean nan eilean ann an suidheachadh èiginn.  Bha soirbheachas na ro-innleachd seo air a dhearbhadh le fìor dheagh thoraidhean ann an deuchainnean an SQA agus deagh bhreithneachadh bho HMI.

Aig ìre eile, le e-Sgoil thathar ag aithneachadh gu bheil na dòighean anns a bheil daoine òga ag ionnsachadh ag atharrachadh aig ìre nas luaithe na bha ann a-riamh roimhe.

Gus e-Sgoil a stèidheachadh chaidh taic-airgid de faisg air £1000 000 fhaighinn bho Riaghaltas na h-Alba, an t-ùghdarras ionadail agus Bòrd na Gàidhlig.  Cho math ri bhith ag ullachadh togalach na h-e-Sgoile agus a’ ceannach uidheam IT, tha seo a-cheana air cothroman cosnaidh cudromach a thabhann do mhanaidsearan, tidsearan, luchd-rianachd agus luchd-cunnraidh ionadail.

Ged is ann an Steòrnabhagh a tha e-Sgoil stèidhichte, tha an conaltradh a tha a’ dol air adhart le Roinn na Gàidhealtachd, Arcaibh agus Sealtainn agus Baile Obar Dheathain a thaobh trèanadh luchd-obrach, cothroman ionnsachaidh agus teagaisg, agus goireasan a’ sealltainn gu bheil àite aig e-Sgoil air feadh Alba air fad.

Dè a bhios anns an e-Sgoil?

Chan fhada gus am bi àite aig an e-Sgoil dhi fhèin ann an seann togalach-sgoile a tha air ùr-leasachadh air Sràid Fhrangain ann an Steòrnabhagh.
Bidh cudrom làidir air a bhith a’ lìbhrigeadh Foghlam tro Mheadhan na Gàidhlig cho math ri bhith a’ dèanamh cinnteach gum bi cothromachd de sholair ann a thaobh raon de chuspairean a’ gabhail a-steach cùrsaichean ionnsachaidh gnìomhach.

Le bhith a’ dèanamh co-chòrdadh air na clàran-ama agus a’ co-roinn thidsearan agus ghoireasan, is urrainn dha sgoiltean a bhith ag obair còmhla gus luach a chur ris na tha iad a’ lìbhrigeadh, gu h-àraidh aig àm an uair a tha crìonadh ann am buidseatan agus ann an àireamh nan sgoilear nan cùisean iomagain mòra ann an ceàrnaidhean dùthchail.  
Bidh e-Sgoil cuideachd na goireas a leigeas le sgoiltean agus coimhearsnachdan a bhith ag obair còmhla ann an dòigh nas èifeachdaich le bhith ga dhèanamh comasach a bhith a’ cleachdadh tasglainn, a’ toirt taic do dhràma agus ceòl no a’ lìbhrigeadh trèanadh ann, mar eisimpleir, an dìon-chloinne do bhuidhnean mar Fòram Ealain Gàidhlig nan Eilean Siar, Comuinn Eachdraidh no Duaisean Diùc Dhùn Èideann. 

Cha bhi e-Sgoil na dhraibhear e fhèin. Bidh sinn a’ fòcasadh air a bhith a’ dèiligeadh ri iarrtas bho sgoiltean agus buidhnean coimhearsnachd a tha an sàs a-cheana, a’ cuideachadh siostam an fhoghlaim a bhith a’ fàs suas ris an dòigh anns a bheil sgoilearan ag ionnsachadh san 21mh linn agus a’ lìbhrigeadh an lèirsinn aig Roinn an Fhoghlaim agus Seirbheisean Chloinne.

Dè a tha sinn a’ dèanamh an-dràsta?

On Lùnastal, tha sinn air a bhith a’ ruith grunnan phròiseact pìleat tro bheil sinn air a bhith a’ stèidheachadh co-ghnàthsan agus modhan-obrach a thaobh IT, eòlas-teagaisg, trèanadh, clàradh SQA, msaa.  Tha na pìleatan sin a’ gabhail a-steach:

  • lìbhrigeadh  Àrd Ìre RMPS eadar sgoiltean sna h-eileanan
  • a’ lìbhrigeadh leasain Gàidhlig AS1 gu AS5 bho na h-Eileanan an Iar gu Acadamaidh Academy, Obar Dheathain
  • trèanadh buidhnean thidsear ann a bhith a’ cleachdadh teicneòlas mar a bhios feumail dhaibh
  • a’ lìbhrigeadh trèanadh Dion-chloinne do bhuidhnean coimhearsnachd
  • a’ goireasachadh àrd-oideachd ciùil bho Chonservatoire Rìoghail na h-Alba gus cur ris an t-solair ionadail
  • a’ tabhann oideachadh air-loidhne ann am fidheall agus brass do bhun-sgoiltean iomallach
  • a’ toirt taic do lìbhrigeadh chuspairean Tro Mheadhan na Gàidhlig
  • a’ cruthachadh cùrsa air-loidhne Àrd-Ìre Adhartach Cruinn-eòlas
  • ag adhartachadh coimhearsnachdan ionnsachaidh air-loidhne proifeiseanta airson lìonra chuspairean
  • a’ steidheachadh bun-structair airson bun-sgoiltean gus a bhith a’ dol an sàs ann an gnìomhan èisteachd agus còmhradh mar phàirt de ro-innleachd cànain 1+2 an riaghaltais.

Dè an teicneòlas a bhios sinn a’ cleachdadh?

Tha Glow, anns an riochd sa bheil e a-nis, mòran nas èifeachdaich na bha e an toiseach. Is e cuideachd lìonra-sgoile tèarainte air feadh Alba a tha ann, a tha a’ faighinn taic bho Microsoft agus mar sin tha sinn a’ trèanadh thidsearan, a rèir an iarrtais, ann a bhith a’ cleachdadh Office 365, Yammer, One Drive, msaa. Is e Vscene an t-inneal eile a thathar a’ tabhann.  Chun na h-ìre seo, tha an goireas conaltradh bhidio seo, a dh’fhaodar a chleachdadh air coimpiutairean uchd, no air sgrion mhòr airson buidhnean nas motha de sgoilearan, air a dhearbhadh fhèin mar ghoireas air leth math airson nan amasan againn. Tha beagan dhuilgheadasan air a bhith againn, mar a bhios le iomairtean ùra sam bith, ach tha sinn air dèiligeadh riutha agus tha am fiosrachadh a tha sinn air fhaighinn air ais bho sgoilearan, pàrantan agus luchd-obrach a tha air a bhith an sàs ann am pìleatan e-Sgoil air a bhith anabarrach math.

Dè nach eil an e-Sgoil a’ feuchainn ri dhèanamh?

Is e prìomh dhùbhlan a tha ann dhuinn a bhith a’ dèiligeadh ri eagal a bhios air daoine a thaobh atharrachadh sam bith a thig.
Chan e innleachd a tha ann an e-Sgoil gus àireamh thidsearan a lùghdachadh.

An co-bhoinn ris na h-ùghdarrasan ionadail air fad, tha dleastanas air CNES, air a sheulachadh le Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus COSLA, àireamh luchd-teagaisg a chumail aig ìrean 2014.

Chan eil sinn a’ moladh modh-obrach gu tur air-loidhne oir feumaidh sgoilearan agus tidsearan cothrom leantainneach a bhith aca a bhith a’ coinneachadh aghaidh ri aghaidh agus a bhith a’ stèidheachadh chàirdeasan. Tha e-Sgoil a’ gluasad air adhart mar mheadhan chruthachail air a bhith a’ coinneachadh ri iarrtasan buidseatan cuingealaichte, àireamhan a tha a’ tuiteam, miann a bhith ag adhartachadh cothromachd agus freagairt air an atharrachadh sgiobalta a tha a’ tighinn air an dòigh anns a bheil daoine òga a’ tighinn beò agus ag ionnsachadh.

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Editor contact: Evelyn Wilkins teachingscotland@gtcs.org.uk


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