By Douglas Blane
David GilmourDavid Gilmour: 'above the parapet'Quality learning and teaching will be tough to achieve in the years ahead, with education budgets slashed to bail out bungling banks. A good place to look for inspiration might be Scotland's smaller education authorities, where getting the most bang for your buck is a way of life.

East Lothian, a third the area of London with a population of just one hundredth, has six secondary schools and no cities. Yet this unlikely location has created a culture of innovation in educational ICT that is second to none. A list of the 10 most technologically innovative educators in Scotland would include four who came from this culture. Ewan McIntosh and Ollie Bray are already part of this series. And Don Ledingham's academic research was where it all began, says David Gilmour – who completes the quartet.

John DavittJohn Davitt: gifting 'synapses of insight'By Bill Hicks
Ask John Davitt what he thinks learning should be like, and the chances are he’ll quote you a lyric from Billy Bragg’s 1991 hit "Sexuality". Why, John demands, shouldn’t learning be “strong and warm and wild and free”.

If those are qualities that you don’t naturally associate with learning in our schools and colleges, then that, according to John Davitt, is a terrible indictment of the system. He believes strongly that with the digital tools at our disposal, we should now  be able to revolutionise learning – if not, “history will judge us harshly for this failure”.

“History will say, ‘you had those tools and you did WHAT with them?’”

Sally McKeown talks to an innovator who will help her learners by any means necessary
Carol AllenCarol Allen: be prepared to 'get your hands dirty'Not just an early adopter of technology, Carol Allen, advisory teacher for ICT and special needs in North Tyneside has been an ’early adapter’ of every form of technology, ensuring it meets the needs of children with disabilities and learning difficulties. She has used Nintendo handhelds to make speech therapy more fun and created sensory playkits from Tesco ‘£1 specials’. "Take what’s there and bend it," she says.

Well known as a judge of special needs awards, her blend of innovation and enthusiasm has also made her popular with schools, local authorities and the software industry. Now much of her work is a key consultant in special needs provision for capital projects like Building Schools for the Future.



By Merlin John

Jaye Richards has a distinctive quality that makes her a very special teacher. In her school days she was a disengaged learner and she has never forgotten what it felt like.

That’s why her focus never strays from her learners and their outcomes, and why she advocates, and can implement, changes in learning: “Innovation is a real opportunity to give learners a voice and that is what has always coloured my work with innovation.”

By Douglas Blane
Margaret VassMargaret Vass: quietly inspiringSmartly dressed and quietly-spoken, Margaret Vass is no one's idea of a typical technology expert. It came as something of a surprise even to her. "When they suggested I apply for this job I told them, 'That's not me.'

"I thought an ICT specialist was somebody who came into your class and set up your whiteboard." But as an ICT curriculum support officer in Falkirk, Margaret has far more impact than that on learning and teaching. Local authorities around Scotland have moved at different speeds to embrace the benefits of new technology.