SERA Online 2020 speakers: Isabelle Boyd

Title of talk/provocation: Back to Future – and NO parochialism of the Present

Isabell Boyd 


Isabelle BoydIsabelle has had a wide and varied career in Scottish Education. She was Headteacher of Cardinal Newman High School from 2002 -2013. Under her leadership, the school achieved an excellent inspection report with Isabelle’s leadership receiving particular praise. She was awarded a CBE for Services to Education in 2008.  As headteacher, Isabelle was recognised as an ‘early adopter’ of Curriculum for Excellence as her approaches to personal support, curriculum design and collaborative working were ground-breaking and nationally recognised.   Isabelle serves on local and national working groups. She was seconded by Scottish Government as one of the national coordinators for the establishment of the Scottish College for Educational Leadership (SCEL). As a senior leader of a large local authority (2014-18), education services under her stewardship were recognised as innovative and collaborative.    Education Scotland inspection of the council (2018) highlighted her clear vision and drive which was “leading to improvement in outcomes for children”. Policy and practice were transformed under her leadership as evidenced by tackling holiday hunger in the ground breaking Club 365; building alliances among schools, and developing leadership of others. Through Cor ad Cor, Isabelle continues to push the boundaries for social change through writing, consultancy, lecturing and contribution to events.  She is particularly vocal about further curriculum review, a fresh look at assessment and certification and a new leadership paradigm across the public sector.

Overview of talk/provocation

If ever there was an opportunity to have a serious conversation about curriculum, assessment, and certification in Scotland, it is surely now.

With the government review of Scottish education still on the stocks (though temporarily suspended due to COVID 19), we could influence policy and practice for the future.  The systemic issues highlighted by forced school closures and SQA use of algorithms provides an opportunity to implement Rahm’s Law “…never let a serious crisis go to waste…. it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

However, it is important to know your history and to learn from the past when discussing a new paradigm for Scottish Education.  In this session we can explore the lessons learned to help create a ‘CfE2.0’ and an examination system fit for 21st Century equity and excellence.

Contact SERA

SERA can be contacted as follows:

Charlaine Simpson – SERA Academic Secretary

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