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Developing metacognition and self-regulation in learners, of all ages

Ahead of a session with Rachel Lofthouse and the CollectivEd1, the mentoring and coaching hub created by her, I have been thinking a lot about metacognition. Our session with teachers in a few weeks is to be focused on metacognition and how we can develop this in both young learners and teachers. The title of our seminar is 'Making sense of Metacognitive Teaching Through Collaborative Professional Development' and will take the form of an introduction, followed by round-table discussions around various models that may be used to develop such collaborative professional development. After the round-tables, we hope to pull the main points emerging together and explore key issues. To help attendees focus their attention they have been referred to the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) paper 'Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning' published in April 2018.

Metacognition has been identified as a key skill for learners by many different authorities and researchers, but l…
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Testing Times for Scotland

'These are not high stakes tests; there will be no 'pass or fail' and no additional workload for children or teachers.' John Swinney 25/11/16 news.gov.scot

I start this look at the introduction of the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSAs) with  statement above from John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, made when he announced the contract for our new standardised testing had been awarded to ACER International UK, Ltd. This organisation is a subsidiary of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), whom have been responsible for the development of the National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) regime of high-stakes testing in the Australian system since 2008. I also believe they were one of a very short list of providers who tendered a bid for this contract.

I was drawn to this statement as I reflected on many of the responses I have received after I put out a request on Twitter …

What really matters in school leadership?

Last week, I was invited to give a 'keynote' presentation for the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) to an audience of Deputy Headteachers and Principal Teachers. Having discussed the possible themes for this with Greg Dempster, the General Secretary of this school leaders' organisation, we agreed the title of my input would be 'What really matters in school leadership?' This post is a recap of what I spoke about on the day.
Thanking AHDS for the chance to speak to the middle leaders from our primary sector, I started by saying what an honour it was to be asked to speak to current leaders, many of whom would be forming the core of leadership in Scottish primary schools for many years to come. Not to put too much pressure on the people in the room, but they were the people who would help shape the future of education, and perhaps solve some of the challenges we still face, or have created, in Scottish education. I hoped to at least stimulate…

Play not tests

Last night I attended the launch the 'PlayNotTests' campaign being led by Sue Palmer and the Upstart organisation in Scotland. This campaign is aimed at getting the Scottish government to think again about their decision to introduce standardised testing into Scottish schools, particularly in Primary 1. Upstart is a group whose main aim is the establishment of a play-based 'kindergarten stage' in Scottish schools, and they want to delay children's introduction into the formal education system until they have reached seven years of age. Before that, Upstart and their supporters, of which I am one, believe that young children learn best, and begin to develop the attributes they will need for life and learning, through play based learning, most of which should be located outside of classrooms and school buildings. This is a model that has been successfully developed by a number of Nordic systems, with positive impacts on the well-being as well as the learning of young…

Yin and Yang, golf and leadership

Being a leader, whether it be of a school, or any other type of organisation, can be both challenging and rewarding. We could see these as the Yin and Yang of formal leadership roles, no matter what the level of experience you bring to that role. Whether you are in your first year of leadership, or your twenty first,  challenges and rewards still remain. However, if you are a leader who is finding their role neither challenging or rewarding, then surely it is time to move on, or move out, which can be a challenge in itself.

To experience both challenge and reward requires action. Actions you take as a leader will bring both risk and reward. If you have chosen them carefully, the rewards will be experienced by all. Chosen poorly and you, and others, might only experience challenge, and struggle to identify many rewards. They may be there, but sometime it takes time for them to emerge. Not every action you take as a leader will bring about positive results. There will be times when you …

Professional learning on a Saturday?

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a professional learning event for teachers, provided by teachers. PedagooTweed was one of a series of events happening across Scotland, supported by Pedagoo, a self-created teacher support group, and SCEL (Scottish College for Educational Leadership). This is an interesting dynamic of the formal and informal  that exist in Scotland that aim to help teachers to learn and develop, by unleashing the power that resides in all of them. So on Saturday teachers and educators from across the south of Scotland met up in Peebles for professional learning and dialogue that was shaped completely by themselves, with no agendas set by others. Also, the mix of sessions were being led and facilitated by practitioners, who were willing to share insights and offer support. No-one had been bought in to deliver, and no-one was selling anything.

There were a mix of activities available. A sharing-table, where attendees put a book or resource that had particula…