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An Ecological Approach to School Development

Ahead of a Webinar discussion around Curriculum for Excellence, and how this can be reimagined, I have been thinking about our whole approach to curricular and school development. What follows is what I was wishing to talk about, if I hadn't experienced a few technical problems, that threw me and caused me to lose my train of thought. Apologies if you heard it and struggled to make sense! Hopefully, this helps.

I think our approach to curricular and school development/change has always been piecemeal and fragmented. We have tended to view the curriculum as very much the subjects we teach, and the knowledge and skills we wish our learners to develop. This has only recently expanded (for some) to include the pedagogies we deploy to develop this knowledge and those skills. However, what we have consistently done, is to think about these independently of each other, and have been slow to make the connections, and their importance, between them all.

Mark Priestley and others have point…
Recent posts

Coronavirus, Parental Stress and Guilt

Two days ago I tweeted,

'Imagine being a parent of two, or more, children, trying to get them to complete all the work being set by their school, whilst also having to complete the work demanded by your headteacher/employer. then feeling guilt about what doesn't get done. Just stop doing this.' 

The response to the tweet has been overwhelming, currently sitting at 600 likes, 50 retweets and almost 50 messages in reply.

The stimulus for the tweet was hearing from yet another teacher who was almost distraught by the guilt and stress she was feeling, as she struggled with the demands of providing an education for three young children and the increasing demands from her school for online activities and report writing, combined with her teaching responsibility at a local 'hub' school. She was being pulled by family responsibilities, school and local authority demands and the responsibility she felt to take her place in the 'hub' school. The dynamics of dealing wi…

Another GERM we need to still be concerned about

At the current time people across the world are very concerned by the growing spread of the coronavirus, and are right to be so, though, it is easy to despair at the reactions of some people and some politicians. The spectacle of people fighting over toilet rolls, and of empty shelves in shops and supermarkets, is perhaps more evidence, if we needed it, of the small mindedness of some as well as their inability to actually 'hear' what medical health experts are saying about the virus, how it spreads and the impacts on different sections on the population. It would seem that the people who are the least likely to be affected by the virus are the ones fighting over toilet rolls, and are clearing shelves, with little or no regard to the impacts for those who are most at risk. Governments struggle to keep up, not surprising given the level of capacity, and agendas, displayed by so many government and their ministers. In the USA, UK and Australia we have governments driven by ideol…

A road less travelled

This week I was asked by Neil McLennan (@neiledinburgh) if I would be willing to speak to some of his Masters leadership students at Aberdeen University about my own leadership journey, but particularly about my journey with Practitioner Enquiry. I was happy to do this, and delivered an online session for Neil and his students last Wednesday. This post is a recap of what I covered, which I promised I would do, in order to aid the participants, but which others might find help or interesting too, wherever they might be in their careers.

My own leadership route clearly demonstrated that their is 'not just one route' into leadership or any career. Indeed,  I believe there should be a diversity of pathways into school leadership, just as there should be a diversity of people who go on to have leadership roles in education. In Scotland we are going down the road of all prospective headteachers needing to have achieved Education Scotland's approved qualification in Headship, be…

Treating the symptoms, never the cause

I have again been thinking about education, and some of the frustrations built into our systems. It would seem as school teacher or school leader in Scotland and the UK, and I am sure elsewhere, we can be easy targets for other sections of society, especially when they are looking to score political points, sell newspapers or deflect from deficiencies elsewhere. I think they can also take advantage of our inability or unwillingness to push back too much, lest it impacts directly on our learners.

Education is crucial to the wellbeing of all societies, to mankind and the planet as a whole. It is right that education systems, and their schools reflect the best parts of the societies and cultures in which they exist. Schools and education cannot exist in some sort of vacuum, independent of the context in which they are located. Education systems are a reflection of the wider society they represent. It is also crucial that such education systems look to keep developing within their context…

Sharing practitioner enquiry results

One of the issues that can sometimes get in the way of staff thinking around practitioner enquiry is the expectation that we somehow share our results, either at the end of a particular enquiry focus, or even during the process itself. In my experience some staff can feel very threatened or insecure about sharing their findings, outcomes and insights from any enquiry process, no matter how hard senior leaders might strive to allay such fears. This post is an exploration of  why we might wish to share, as well as some simple ways that you can disseminate outcomes, that are relatively straightforward, but are nevertheless powerful tools within the enquiry process.

The first thing I would say is that we all need to see collaboration and sharing as key elements of any enquiry, not something that is bolted on at the end. For our enquiries to have the greatest impact, for ourselves, colleagues, schools, and  even the system, we need to be collaborating and sharing, not functioning in isolat…

Scottish education on the brink of profound change in professional learning

As most schools in Scotland have now returned for the new school session after the summer break, this is a time of great excitement and refocused activity in all schools. Teachers have had the summer break to recover from their exertions, and demands placed on them, during the previous school year, and have no doubt been anticipating the year ahead, as the summer holidays drew to a close.

I was in a Secondary school last Monday working with staff from that school and their feeder primary schools. It was great to feel the buzz and excitement people were generally feeling about the year ahead. Most staff I spoke to articulated how excited they were to get going again, and about the year ahead. I remember that buzz myself from when I was still in school, both as a teacher and headteacher. I never lost that throughout my career, and it is one of the things I miss most about not being in a school, especially at this time of the year.

As children returned over the rest of this week, the sen…