Learning in China and in Scotland

17 June 2013

Judith-SCEN-2013.jpgI think you will share my satisfaction at our day in the magnificent Playfair Library, hearing fascinating presentations and considering Learning in China and in Scotland.SCEN began its events in 2006, but I thought that this occasion really brought out the voice of China and represented a real attempt at mutual understanding.

Heartfelt thanks to the President of SCEN, Lord Wilson of Tillyorn, who always makes such super-human efforts to attend SCEN events and whose presence embodies our aspirations. His interview by Bella Wang will live in our memories. The Confucius Institute for Scotland was our partner and provided our historic surroundings (though I would have liked to see some female marble busts too!), superb organisation by Jie Chen and her team, and the support and delicious refreshments so courteously provided by Edinburgh First. Professor Natascha Gentz, Director of the Confucius Institute, gave us a wonderful confessional account of her life and enormous insights into learning Chinese and about China. She inspired us all.

2013 marks the foundation of the SCEN Youth Committee, who spoke and questioned eloquently and with confidence. Many thanks indeed to Bella Wang, Tara Coldwell-Brock, Stuart Main and Liam Clague, whose work in planning the event was superb. They will continue to play a prominent role in the development of SCEN and its activities, and I have invited them to attend the Meeting of the Board of SCEN, which will take place on 6 September at Leith Academy and be followed by the SCEN Lecture 2013.

Great thanks to our award-winning SCEN Piper, Aaron Hossain, and to our SCEN Photographer, Megan Hammell. Megan will be working on a Photo Record of the Conference and we shall see it soon on the SCEN website. Our SCEN Music Ambassador, Louise Rossiter (remember she was also excellent at fixing hostile computers) and Andrew Connor, recorded Aaron's playing. We shall all look forward to hearing him as part of Louise's brilliant new composition, as well as seeing him once more at the handsome entry to the Gleneagles Hotel. Yes!  The Second SCEN China Youth Summit will take place at Gleneagles on Wednesday 27 November 2013. 

We were so fortunate in our wide range of splendid speakers, who included senior educationalists, alumni from China, distinguished practioners such as Judith McKerrecher (the starfish and making a difference: really superb), the eloquent Eric Balish and Iain Valentine, the exciting work of Scottish Opera in China and the range of experiences from the five marvellous contributors on their learning of Chinese. Hillhead High School provided a wonderful account of S1's glorious China Day and the Kung Fu film from Dollar Academy, winners of the Wuhan Trophy, was fantastic! We have been left with practical steps too: to join the SCEN professional learning community on GLOW, to find out more about the opportunities available from the British Council's Generation UK, and to act upon the terrific advice of Catherine Thwaites, International Education Manager of the National Union of Students. Huge thanks to you all.

It was so good to have the opening welcome of Mr Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning. He is a great supporter of SCEN and so are his officials at the Scottish Government. SCEN will continue to be a key stakeholder in the China Plan.