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### The Ineffectiveness of a Primary-Secondary Dichotomy: Sheena Devlin’s Perspective

Sheena Devlin had a strong passion for education from a young age and aspired to become a primary teacher. During her childhood, she would play “schoolies” with her cousins and siblings, taking on the role of the teacher.

Reflecting on her early teaching experiences, Devlin credits those moments for laying the foundation for her career. Despite her enthusiasm, not everyone supported her choice to pursue primary teaching. Her S4 guidance teacher at Dundee’s Harris Academy expressed disapproval and suggested she consider secondary teaching instead, revealing a prevalent bias at the time.

Throughout her career, Devlin encountered instances where the significance of primary education was belittled. She recalls an education director who minimized the distinction between primary and secondary education, a perspective that she vehemently opposed.

As a graduate of the inaugural four-year primary teaching program at the University of Dundee in 1988, Devlin emphasizes the transformative impact of primary education on children’s lives. She highlights the joy of witnessing students progress from basic literacy skills to a comprehensive educational foundation.

However, Devlin notes that primary education often operates in the shadow of secondary education, leading to oversight and underappreciation of its value. This neglect, she warns, could potentially result in shortcomings similar to those observed in the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) implementation.

Devlin, who assumed the role of president of the national education directors’ body ADES, emphasizes the need for educational reforms to address existing challenges. She underscores the importance of collaborative improvement initiatives and self-evaluation frameworks to drive progress within the education system.

In her advocacy for enhancing teaching quality, Devlin stresses the significance of ongoing professional development and a holistic approach to teacher education. She acknowledges the impact of resource constraints on training and development programs, emphasizing the need for sustained investment in educators’ growth.

Despite the complexities and tensions within the education sector, Devlin underscores the fundamental trust that underpins effective teaching and learning. She highlights the privilege and responsibility of shaping young minds, emphasizing the importance of autonomy and support for educators at all levels.

In a recent interview with Tes Scotland, Devlin echoes the call for continuous professional development and a seamless progression in teacher education to cultivate skilled and adaptive educators. She emphasizes the essential role of trust in empowering teachers and educational leaders to fulfill their responsibilities effectively.