In My Opinion: Courtnay McLeod: Celebrating more than a birthday

ALL birthdays are special, but a first birthday is pretty hard to beat. It’s a time for proud parents to stand back and celebrate an important milestone; the baby steps are over and exciting times lie ahead.

So celebrations will take place in the Scottish Media Academy this week as it turns one. It’s enjoyed a remarkable first year, but, as its director, I know its success isn’t simply about what it’s done, but where it’s done it.

Bauer Media’s vision and commitment is worth acknowledging, there wouldn’t be an academy without it; but let’s move on from that. Parental cooing gets dull, even for those related to the offspring. The truth is the speed of the academy’s success comes from it being launched in the right place at the right time.

The academy set out with an ambitious remit, including providing fresh business solutions through tailored consultancy and training. But one of its biggest objectives was to help fill the void between education and industry.

Given how hard it can be to create change, this objective was never likely to be an easy feat or a fast fix, but surely placing academics inside the industry would generate some fresh approaches? Indeed it has.

This is largely because Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence has provided the perfect backdrop.

Its drive for a more ‘flexible and enriched curriculum’ signalled that the time was now for one of the world’s biggest media companies to invest in an academy in Scotland. The CfE context has enabled the academy to make rapid progress; reflecting that, in 2013, Scottish education is a vibrant place, open to change with a genuine focus on enhancement.

The potential of the Scottish Media Academy has been quickly understood, and, as a result, it has delivered exciting CfE projects in schools and developed meaningful partnerships with numerous colleges, universities, charities and key stakeholders. We couldn’t have created this on our own – the will, the vision, the ambition was already there.

Like any media organisation, Bauer Media likes an ‘exclusive’, but, as we celebrate the success of the Scottish Media Academy, we do it knowing the success isn’t entirely ours. Our sturdy baby steps, and strides into the future, rely very much on the right educational landscape and a shared ambition for effective, deep learning.

The ecology of Scottish education is changing, and this week we celebrate being part of that.

Courtnay McLeod is director of the Scottish Media Academy and regularly teaches broadcast journalism at various universities and colleges, with special interests in media convergence issues and broadcast writing styles.