I had quite a conventional route post school in that I headed off to university in Stirling to study French and German and then to train as a Modern Languages teacher. I had always loved language learning and during my final two years at school – and whilst at university – took myself off abroad travelling and working in a variety of different jobs.
Although a passionate linguist, I am also very much aware of the wider skills that language learning can develop; confidence, communication, analysis and interpretation of information and social capital as well as social skills in general. These are all essential in the workplace and during my career as a teacher I was passionate about reminding students about the importance and relevance of language learning – not just for the linguistic skills, important though they are – but also for those transferrable skills which we all require in the workplace. When I became a principal teacher of Modern Languages, I worked hard to ensure there were ‘language for work’ elements to everything we did in our faculty and sought out local businesses to come in and work with me to inspire learners to continue their language learning journey.
Fast forward a couple decades and now, as director of education and children’s services, I do not use my French and German language skills on a daily basis. However, I still use all those transferrable skills day in and day out in everything I do – they will last me a lifetime!
I think DYW is one of the most exciting developments in Scottish education in the past generation and it is a great opportunity for schools, local authorities, colleges and employers to come together to ensure we are investing in our future workforce – collaboratively and in partnership across private and public sectors. It is a great pleasure to be part of the DYW North East board and to be part of the team creating real opportunities for young people across the region.