Skip to main content


Some thoughts for new student teachers

  Having gained a host of new followers on Twitter, who are either completing PGDE, or other student teacher qualifications, got me thinking about the advice, thoughts, comments I would give to those embarking on their own professional learning journey.   It is heart-warming to see, and hear, the enthusiasm of new entrants into the profession. They are passionate about their career path, and are constantly enthusing about the high quality input they are receiving from lecturers, professors of education and practitioners. My first piece of advice would to use those feelings as a touchstone, to go back to and revisit, throughout your career, but especially when you are facing challenges. Teaching is one of the most satisfying and rewarding professions to be involved in, but throughout your career you will encounter a myriad of challenges, and during these times it is often worth your while reminding yourself of why you came into the profession, and re-consider your early enthusiasms.   W
Recent posts

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 p

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 deal

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 ideolo

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 Heads

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 contex

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 isola