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Background

The Scottish Executive Education Department and its predecessors funded the Scottish Schools Ethos Network (SSEN) for ten years from 1995 to 2005. It was founded jointly by SOEID, as it was titled in 1995, and by Moray House Institute of Education, shortly thereafter to become part of the University of Edinburgh. The closure of the Network at the end of July 2005 in no way suggests any lessening focus on developing a positive ethos in Scotland's schools, rather the contrary.

SSEN aimed to:

SSEN respond to the demand from schools to share information, ideas and ways of improving school ethos
SSEN encourage evaluation of school ethos and related policies and practices
SSEN exchange experiences of developing and sustaining a positive ethos.

SSEN developed as a 'bottom-up' members' service, guided by members' requests, initially as they set about implementing the recommendations in the guidelines, Using Ethos Indicators in School Self-evaluation; taking account of the views of pupils, parents and teachers, (SOEID, 1992). Two of these documents, to support Primary and Secondary schools respectively, evolved from work undertaken by Archie McGlynn HMCI, Judy Arrowsmith of Moray House, John MacBeath of Jordanhill College and others, who developed the prototype indicators. A number of conferences were organised following the launch of these documents and, such was the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response of schools to these events and schools' demand for more opportunities to share experiences, that the Network came into being. A 'trial period' resulted in more secure Scottish Office funding and SSEN's formal launch.

The Network supported its members through the complex process of evaluating the whole context of learning in their own setting. The aim was to facilitate schools getting in touch with each other to share approaches, methods of consultation, good ideas and action for improvement of school ethos. The Network encouraged a research attitude in schools and dedication to the systematic and honest evaluation of school ethos. It facilitated the celebration of good practice, providing an Ethos Award for six years, and offered a national platform for talking and writing about experience.

In order to facilitate schools' networking, SSEN also established a website and ran 25 local Seminars or Roadshows, 11 National Conferences, two small International Seminars and an Open Day. Although a range of distinguished speakers contributed to SSEN events, there was always an emphasis on schools learning from other schools.

SSEN created an extensive database of members' activities and developments as well as producing a wide range of publications (still available on this website) that included:

SSEN 24 SSEN Newsletters.
SSEN 3 special issue Newsletters shared with its affiliated Network, the Anti-Bullying Network.
SSEN 43 School Case Studies.
SSEN 7 Vision and Action School Case Studies.
SSEN 2 books of Case Studies.
SSEN Numerous 'Outline Papers' from contributions to SSEN conferences and roadshows.

Although originally a membership network for schools, SSEN membership was also open to local councils - some of which took out collective membership for all their schools, national/local voluntary organisations and international organisations. Attendance at events was open to all with an interest in developing a positive ethos, regardless of membership. Publications were also distributed widely beyond 'signed-up' members, at home and beyond Scotland. SSEN hosted international visitors from many countries, notably those who hoped to develop a better ethos in their own schools.

SSEN, under its Director, Professor Pamela Munn, was overseen by a small advisory committee, membership of which included representation from the Scottish Executive, Councils, schools and voluntary organisations.

We would like to take this opportunity of thanking the following for the vital part they played in SSEN through the ten years of its existence, in helping Scotland's schools provide a more positive ethos for their pupils:

SSEN School communities (pupils and former pupils, staff - both teaching and support - and parents/carers) who have contributed ideas, workshops, talks, musical and dramatic performances; items for publication, advice and comments
SSEN Education Authority officers and advisers
SSEN Members of the SSEN Advisory Group
SSEN Voluntary Organisations and other Agencies who supported SSEN
SSEN HMIE
SSEN SED, SOED, SOEID, SEED officers
SSEN Academics from all of Scotland's HE establishments and thinkers, researchers and authors from there and from the international educational community who have researched and illuminated practice
SSEN Members of the educational and other press
SSEN Politicians, local and national