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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
5th March 2009


Twinkle, twinkle little star

This has been a week dealing mainly with the cases brought by constituents.  From getting pavements repaired to helping with a legal case in one afternoon, casework can be repetitive but it never gets boring.  To tell the truth, itís actually one of the more satisfying parts of the job, that sense of achievement, a wee bit fulfilment, that comes from seeing people with their lives improved Ė even just a wee bit Ė by the work that weíve done.  Itís one of the best parts of the job Ė and the one bit that I canít tell you anything about because people bringing their worries, concerns and problems to a politician deserve to know that their confidentiality is assured, that Iím not going to be telling anyone anything about them or their case.

Most of my week, then, has been taken up with doing that bit of my job that has to stay under wraps, and Iím a bit short of things to tell you, except I want to tell you about some stars Ė twinkling stars.

I was privileged to be asked to open the Tapestry conference this week Ė Tapestry having nothing to do with Bayeaux and everything to do with improving education.  The Tapestry Partnership is an organisation committed to improving Scottish education and making sure that the Curriculum for Excellence transforms the learning experience. 

 

The title of the conference was Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and it was a masterclass on how children and young people can develop their own interest in learning and learn to pursue their personal educational interests.  It focussed on personalisation and choice in the curriculum and encouraging young people to take ownership of their own education and I enjoyed hearing the views expounded and the experiences related.

 

Iím delighted that Tapestry is supporting the Curriculum for Excellence because that has the potential to enhance teachersí continuing professional development, encourage trust, and give Scottish teachers the skills and the confidence to ensure that they can meet the needs of all learners, what ever their background.  The SNP Scottish Government is moving the education agenda forward, improving education provision across Scotland for all ages and organisations like the Tapestry Partnership are part of that wide movement.

What was really delightful, however, was the musical performance by young people from Merkland School in East Dunbartonshire with songs which I think they wrote themselves; Rise up and Sing was first, followed by We are the Children of Merkland School then a young chap called Ross sang solo with We Never Really Say Goodbye Ė a beautiful singing voice, and his colleagues rejoined him to sing Until we Sing Again before they did a medley from the Sound of Music and finished off with, I know youíve guessed, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

They truly are a collection of twinkling little stars and it was a delightful concert Ė and quite the right way to start a conference, I think all conferences should start like that and Iíll be suggesting that SNP Conference in October opens with the Cabinet singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star Ė I can see that being one of the most popular requests Ö

Education Committee on Wednesday saw Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, giving evidence on the Higher Education Taskforce report, and the committee was beginning its consideration of the Schools Consultation Bill (which will introduce what amounts to a presumption against closure for rural schools), and the afternoon was education business in the chamber as well, with the Stage 1 debate on the Additional Support for Learning Bill.  One major challenge for me was to get all of my points on this delicate and technical Bill made within my six minute speech Ė itís not easy you know!

Wednesday night saw my friends and colleagues going out together for dinner for my birthday (I never thought Iíd reach 21 so quickly) Ė a lovely wee Italian restaurant called al Dente on Easter Road in Edinburgh Ė excellent Tiramisu, complete with birthday candle.  A lovely night.

Iím writing this on Thursday evening, having just taken part in a Memberís Business debate on International Womenís Day.  I was, of course, excellent and sparkling, witty and erudite, but youíre just going to have to believe me because the Official Report doesnít go online until the morning Ö


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