Scotland, The Future and Reflective Practitioners: A personal report on the value of reflection and professional enquiry

Creative Industries invest heavily in individual talent, creativity and skill. According to a Creative & Cultural Skills report in 2011, the thirteen industries that define the sector currently account for £37,610 per head in annual economic contribution compared to £31,800 GVA per head for the rest of the United Kingdom’s combined economy (Creative & Cultural Skills 2011). Furthermore, considering the steady rise in the creative sector’s economic contribution per annum, in not only the UK but in terms of the global economy, competition for a creative workforce with an entrepreneurial mind is becoming increasingly topical. Government bodies and agencies are now beginning to plan strategically to safeguard employment and opportunity for the next generation. With a plan to pursue a career in the Scottish education system as a primary school teacher it is crucially important that I understand: The Scottish economy and its workforce, the current school curriculum in terms of promoting enterprise and creativity and finally, the importance of self reflection in creating a Personal Development Plan (PDP) in regards to my own learning as a tool for career development.

With an economy “powered by creativity” (Florida 2012, p.6) the need for entrepreneurship in the UK economic agenda is paramount if Britain is to compete in the global markets. The significance of which is demonstrated on a continual rise in the world’s creative economy at a rate of over four times that of manufacturing growth (UKCES 2009). Moreover, in forecasts published in Ambition 2020 World Class Skills and Jobs for the UK: 2010 update (UKCES 2010), it is estimated that the UK is likely to be tenth and eleventh in employability and productivity (respectively). However, stimulating and subsequently maintaining growth in regards to the creative sector will be achieved by: “Providing business stability, making markets more dynamic, supporting investment and growth and focused public spending” (UKCES 2009). In “supporting investment” in Scotland, focus is centered on individual skills and creativity by investing in education and small “dynamic new firms that drive innovation”. The government anticipates that this will attract the creation of “new industries, and generate a huge share of the jobs” (Florida 2012, p.389) where currently within the UK, London far surpasses Scotland in terms of creative and cultural industry employment demand (Creative & Cultural Skills 2011). What’s more, the competition stretches even further afield with threat of many businesses offshoring to India and China: Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard reportedly stated that governments can “Keep . . . tax incentives and highway interchanges, we will go where the highly skilled people are” (Fiorina, C. 2010, cited in Florida 2012, p.8). Thus, Creative & Cultural Skills have recognized the need in “developing skills to ensure that the country stays at the forefront of artistic and business success” (2011, p.14).

Throughout history from the Agricultural Revolution to the Industrial Revolution, the innovative thinkers that can maintain entrepreneurship in their work have far succeeded their competitors. Scotland today faces a new Revolution; one of intellectual commodities. Karl Marx was partially correct when he predicted that the workforce would provide the means of manufacturing (Small 2014) however, the extent of his prediction did not presume that the product would be the worker’s own creative Intellectual Property. An individual’s creativity is becoming capitalised in global markets, as “new creative ethos power our age” (Florida 2012, p.6). For creativity to strive and innovation to prosper within institutions, such as the Scottish educational system, entrepreneurial models must be integrated within creative frameworks and nurtured from a young age (Jennings and Kennedy 1996). Whilst sector skills are high with 61% of employees trained above Level 4 (compared to 37% for the rest of the economy) it will be in supporting the momentum that Scotland will prosper and compete within the global economy (Creative & Cultural Skills 2011).

To support the importance of entrepreneurship at an early age in a child’s education, The Scottish Executive has outlined reforms in the curriculum. The new reforms allow for continual learning development in to further higher education and work. Thus, with government backing and funding I have decided to pursue a career in education as a primary school teacher. Scotland is investing heavily in providing people with a chance in developing their skills. In 2010 the Scottish Parliament announced an investment of £1.77 billion in funds for higher and further education (Creative & Cultural Skills 2011). Not only this, but there is an understanding that learning should not be exclusively reserved for academic scholars and so, 20,000 modern apprentices are to be funded alongside 14,500 additional training places to support the unemployed (Creative & Cultural Skills 2011). Furthermore, in the same year 800 new targeted pathways for sixteen and seventeen year olds were introduced; thus reflecting the need for a creatively inclined workforce (Creative & Cultural Skills 2011). This is significant in terms of developing a workforce that can effectively contribute and compete in the emergent Creative Industry.

As described in “Skills for Work” in the Scottish Executive published report on A Curriculum for Excellence; it is in allowing students an opportunity to flourish as individuals whilst working as part of a community where they can effectively develop skills and continue to grow throughout their lives (2006, p.7). A positive example of this is from Holy Rood High School where staff and pupils have formed a cultural exchange programme with a primary school in Tanzania (Lombeta Inc. 2013). I myself benefitted from this project when first founded in 2001. We formed a business plan that shaped the basis for the project to develop. In our plan we outlined ways of selling manufactured products to the local community such as: mugs, mouse mats, tea towels etc. Furthermore, we were encouraged by staff to utilise tools online to expand our network and customer base. This experience focused us to think creatively and collaboratively, and to consider costs and profit margins. From this I am fortunate in having experience in presenting myself professionally, and can organise myself and others in engaging in an activity. Funded by government grants and student led enterprise projects, this award winning enterprise is now beginning to embed the enterprise in to the curriculum. As suggested in a Curriculum for Excellence (2013), Lombeta Inc. is now creating workshops for students to recognise their transferable skills between taught subjects and the project. Arguably, “when there is self-awareness that a particular skill is being used or deployed,” children and adults are more likely “to transfer . . . skills from one domain to another” (Unwin and Wellington 2001, pp.86-87).

Considering that I hope to one day become a teacher, I too need to develop my reflective skills. As a future educator it is my responsibility to “practice” my developing skills “underpinned by theory, research and reflection” as skills are best advanced over time (Johnston 2008, p.4). By understanding past experiences through critical reflection, it will also benefit future problem solving (Boud et al. 1993). In regards to the classroom “someone needs to be there who is capable of thinking about what is going on, and of helping others to do so” (Rustin 1991 cited in, Jennings and Kennedy 1996, p.6). As a result most States in America include a mandatory requirement whereby teachers must produce Personal Development Plans (Sugarman, 2011). This is to aid development and also for teachers to seek advice from other teaching staff and their superiors. Plans are reviewed and updated by the teacher and their supervisor to ensure that they are followed through successfully promoting a “collaborative role” to “promote self reflection” (Jennings and Kennedy 1996, p.18). In an ejournal, published to discuss the significance of PDP in teacher development, it was noted that “by going through this process of reflection and discovery, practitioners develop a sense of responsibility to themselves and their future choices” (Sugarman, 2011). This is important for my own future to ensure my ambitions are met and reviewed.

Personal Development Plans written by Peter Honey outlines the planning benefits in terms of actively engaging in, and seeking out, opportunities for oneself (2001). Honey argues that by establishing a plan that is personal to the creator and their individual needs, it is more likely to happen opposed to generalised ideas set out by someone else. In a study on Motivation and Reward conducted by Harvard Business School psychologist Teresa Amabile, it was observed that “intrinsic motivation is conductive to creativity, but extrinsic motivation is detrimental” (Amabile 1996 cited in, Florida 2012, p.22). In other words, if a person is to engage in a creative activity through their own interest, it is proven that they are more successful and creative than if they were merely motivated by a target forced upon them by someone else. Therefore, in developing my own PDP I needed to find an aim that I was genuinely passionate about and setting clear and manageable objectives for myself to increase the likelihood of achievement.

My chosen structure for my PDP was loosely based on Honey’s essential ingredients of a plan, under the synonym, “LEARN” (Honey 2009, p.25). Through following the LEARN criteria (Limited, Exact, Appropriate, Realistic, Now), I could avoid a complicated plan with too many aspects to remember and looked too far ahead in to my future. However, despite providing a basis for my plan, Honey failed to assess my current situation to its fullest. I was disappointed in skipping to my future and merely briefly analysing my current situation. This is when I discovered Ryan Robin’s “Brand You” Mind Map (Ryan 2006, p.172). Robin explored self branding and professionalism in order to network and promote individuals in the employment market. Creating a Mind Map Chart allowed me to easily see my strengths whilst critiquing my current situation. From this I could see where I was not ready in achieving my aim. By blending the two plans, I was able to construct a PDP that was specific to me and my needs (Kumar 2007).

In exploring my future job prospects in teaching, I discovered an increase in job openings within Scotland. According to figures published by the General Teaching Council for Scotland there were “76,714 fully registered teachers in Scotland for term 2010/11 compared with 77,310 fully registered teachers for term 2009/2010” (GTCS 2013). This is a result of former action in reducing the intake of training new teachers and also due to a rise in teachers anticipated for retirement (GTCS 2013). For me entering the profession I am more likely to have an opportunity to teach full time after my probationary year within a school as more employment opportunities arise. However, for me to become a successful teacher I must maintain professionalism, therefore I must make use of the several techniques and tools available to me.

To become an effective teacher I must begin to develop ‘Brand Hannah’ as a teacher (Robin 2006). Networking sites such as The Education Network (Education Network 2013) and The Teacher Net (TTN 2013) are available for educators to share ideas, job opportunities and resources. To make the most of the sites I must actively engage in discussion and attend training days advertised on the sites. In doing so I will be continuing my learning from peers as is required under Continued Professional Development which all registered teachers must partake in (Scottish Government 2013). Social media can also be vital in creating a strong network to furthering my learning and career. However, incorrect use online can damage my credibility as a teacher and hinder future employment prospects. In May 2011 head teacher Bernard Routledge was dismissed after befriending his pupils online (The Telegraph 2013). He was questioned over inappropriate ‘friend requests’ on the site Facebook to which, Routledge argued that in an age where social networking is common place he should be allowed to communicate with his pupils in this manner (The Telegraph 2013). Sadly for Routledge, the school’s trustees did not agree and went so far as to comment on Routledge’s dress sense. However, a lesson can be learned from an incident such as this. By maintaining a professional relationship with pupils and staff and dressing appropriately for the role I should not only be secured in my job but will also be promoting a positive role model for my students.

Entrepreneurship and creativity in Scotland’s Creative Industries depend on the skill development of its workforce. Each creative professional has the responsibility to continue the government’s progress in education and training through self reflection, evaluation and action. If Scotland is to compete in the global economy and attract new enterprise, the teacher’s of today and tomorrow must encourage students to think innovatively and challenge themselves in ongoing learning through a range of new experience in enterprise and through the subjects offered in the curriculum. “PDP was proposed and developed to open up new ways of helping students prepare for an increasingly complex and uncertain world” (Kumar 2007, p.7) and so, with an aim in becoming a teacher I too must practice, develop and review my own unique PDP. Furthermore, in understanding the strategic tools, funding and support available I can be sure to prosper in the emergent creative and competitive employment market.

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