Renfrewshire Council

Steven Quinn

"One thing I still like to do is get back out into the classrooms and teach. That's how you stay connected to what this role is all about."

Renfrewshire's new Director of Children's Services likes to be hands on in everything he does, embracing his years of experience in the maths classroom to provide young people in Renfrewshire with the opportunity to achieve.

Since returning to university from a career in sales at the age of 25, Steven Quinn has had a drive to make a difference to the lives of young people in whatever manner he can.

A move from counting in class to balancing budgets hasn't stunted that ambition and Renfrewshire, this year, was the first local authority in Scotland to be rated 'excellent' for its work in raising attainment.

Steven said: "We were delighted to be recognised as 'excellent' by Education Scotland, particularly as it's been achieved through the dedication, passion and drive of all colleagues in children's services.

"Their drive to better themselves through training and embracing new methods is having a clear benefit for our young people and we've seen significant year-on-year improvements in listening, talking, reading, writing and numeracy, with the attainment gap closing across all measures"

The role of Director encompasses not only education, but also children's social work and the criminal justice service and ensuring the correct support and pathways are available for young people is a key part of Steven's ambition.

"We want to ensure that our young people are ready to achieve, and we recognise this means more than just qualifications when they leave the school system.

"We're working hard to put the appropriate support and processes in place to ensure we provide a safe and nurturing environment for all our young people achieve better outcomes, and I'm excited to be at the forefront of this in Renfrewshire."

Until recently, Steven was the council's Chief Education Officer which made him responsible for supporting all the area's headteachers and heads of centre to lead their schools in the best way possible.

A significant part of this work has been focused on disrupting the pattern between poverty and attainment, to give all pupils the opportunity to succeed regardless of their background.

"What we are doing in Renfrewshire is listening to our pupils, parents, teachers and everyone involved in the care and education that we provide.

"Through the Renfrewshire Literacy approach, which we run in partnership with the University of Strathclyde, our teachers and support staff work to engage children in reading by offering choice and encouraging interest-led rather than prescribed reading texts.

"It's impact on pupils and staff alike has been extremely well-received and we're already seeing the benefits, with many of our schools winning national awards for their achievements."

Not afraid to embrace new methods or technology, Steven recently led a team of education staff in San Francisco to meet with experts at the prestigious Stanford University - with the aim of bringing innovative teaching methods to Renfrewshire to inspire a love of maths in pupils.

"Inspiring our pupils to enjoy learning maths is really important not just for improving their maths understanding and achievement, but in improving their overall confidence in problem solving and investigation. It also improves learning in a wide range of other subjects.

"We learned from colleagues at Stanford about 'youcubed', an alternative approach to maths education which is followed by one-in-two American schools and has seen students achieve significant improvement in their test results.

"We've brought this learning back to our schools and our teachers and it's exciting to see how this will benefit our young people in the maths classroom."

A love of maths and education is certainly inspired in Steven and through his new role, he'll hope to inspire each and every future generation to be excited to get to class every morning.

Published 23 May 2019.