What makes Argyll and Bute a great place to learn and teach? Who better to ask than our Chief Education Officer, Anne Paterson, who’s retiring after nearly four decades teaching in the area.
How long have you worked in education in Argyll and Bute?
I began working in January 1982 in Park Primary School as a brand new teacher, so almost 39 years.
What roles have you held?
I began as a class teacher, then a Senior Teacher, Depute Head Teacher, Head Teacher, 5-14 Development Officer, Curriculum for Excellence Co-Ordinator, Quality Improvement Officer, Quality Improvement Manager, Education Manager, Head of Service and Chief Education Officer.
How many pupils roughly do you think you will have taught over that time?
Wow that is a big one? – I suppose over 2000 as a teacher another 3000 as a Head Teacher and having overall responsibility for our 10168 school children currently enrolled in schools across Argyll and Bute and 1525 ELC children either enrolled or provisionally enrolled in our ELC settings.
Wow there have been many I suppose one memorable highlight has obviously been the Scottish Head Teacher of the Year award in 2006. To be nominated by the pupils, staff, parents and community in Inveraray was very humbling, unexpected and amazing. I then went on to represent Scotland in the UK final in London. I have also had the opportunity to have international visits to Menorca and Montana to share my rural education expertise. I was also seconded to Scottish Government as part of the initial Raising Attainment Working Group. As a Head Teacher I am most proud of the work undertaken at Inveraray Primary during my leadership on creating a centre of excellence for outdoor learning. I am so pleased with the way this continues to grow and now leaving a legacy that outdoor learning is important in Argyll and Bute.
What’s special about teaching here?
I think for me my special moments are all the young people I see around Argyll and Bute who I know I have either taught or have been their HT who are contributing to life in Argyll and Bute. I always feel a sense of pride and legacy. It is so interesting now to have teachers and head teachers who I have taught. Argyll is often described a village and that stays true as we look out for each other. Our communities are very much part of our schools and I see that important for our education service. I have throughout my career believed in the old native American proverb of first we give our children roots and then their wings to fly. We provide strong roots in Argyll and Bute.
Why is this a good place for young people to learn?
Young people are very important to their communities and this reflects on communities being part of the successes and achievements of our young people. I don’t think our young people fully understand the richness of this community and the feeling that this establishes. Teaching and living in one of the most outstanding area of biodiversity in Scotland has to be a big plus and for me the easy access to our outdoors is really important. Argyll cares about you and gets under your skin and becomes part of you.
These aren’t the easiest times for either teachers or pupils. What message would you like to give to teachers and to young people in Argyll and Bute?
This pandemic is being referred to as a crisis. The Chinese equivalent of the word “crisis” is interpreted as, there are dangers and there are also opportunities. We have been dealing and reacting to the dangers but we need to also make the most of the opportunities that it has brought too. I have seen really creative solutions arising to learning and teaching and we need to ensure that we make the most of these for our lifelong learning. There has been change and there will continue to be change and we should see these changes as a chance to improve our education system