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Showing posts from December, 2014

1000 Years of Experience

I returned to teaching in 1992, having only completed one year when I qualified in 1976. So I have some twenty three years of experience in education and another sixteen years in business and commerce. My last fifteen years have been as a headteacher and I have learned so much, and continue to do so, that I wish I knew when I started in teaching and leadership that I know now. I share these thoughts with you all and my younger self.
I have always been an idealist and a bit of a late developer in everything I have tackled in my career and am still developing now. My first thought would be:

Stay true to your values and principles. These will develop over time, but should be the touchstone for your practice and the demands placed upon you during your career. Stick with your instincts. If something doesn't feel right to you, it probably isn't. So, question what you are asked to do and whether it is the right thing to do.Always remember why you wanted to be a teacher. For me it was …

14/15 Nurture

2014 has been another busy, exciting and challenging year. Some of the highlights have included:

Continuing to work with some excellent teachers and colleagues in both the schools I lead. We have pressed forward with our practitioner enquiry approaches to school and individual development. Four and a half years down this road and we are more committed and convinced than ever that we have chosen the right path for us. We have seen impressive impacts for our learners, for each teacher and for both schools. The totality of the curricular experience we deliver has continued to develop and we all understand how this is a continuous journey and process of growth, with no destination or finishing point. Seeing teachers of all ages and stages continue to grow and develop even more enthusiasm for what they do, and the impact they have, is one of the joys of school leadership. Hearing laughter in the staff-room so often is a key indicator for me of school well-being.Seeing the successes and ac…

A Teacher Enquiry Into Spelling

We have just recently completed our annual whole-school screening assessment, one aspect of which is progress in spelling. This particular area of language we have been considering throughout the school, and across our local cluster of schools. This is also an area that two of our teachers looked at as part of their practitioner enquiries in 2013-14, continuing into this session. Both these teachers are based in our upper school, teaching a composite primary 6/7 and a straight primary 7 class. The results being displayed by the pupils they taught are quite remarkable and I think worthy of sharing and consideration by others. The particular year group I am focused on is our current primary 7 class who have been taught by one or other of the two teachers during the last school year and this. The year group consists of 33 pupils, most of whom are 11years old. In the last twelve months two pupils have made over three years improvement in spelling age, with the highest making three years t…

Christmas: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

We are well into the run up to Christmas in all our schools. I have been thinking about this time of year from a school leadership point of view. This can be very much a best of times, worst of times,  for schools, their staff and the leaders. So let us consider the benefits and some of the possible pitfalls.

This period should definitely be the best of times for our learners, especially if like me you work in primary education. They get more and more excited as we head towards the holidays and the big day itself. It can, and should, be the best of times for them in school as well. Not because, as some seem to think, we are all winding down, with the pupils spending all of their time watching films, playing games, colouring Santas and having parties. Admittedly some of this might happen , but the reality is that this is a very busy period for pupils and teachers alike. This time of year is actually one of the busiest times in schools, especially primaries. We can have Christmas shows …

When Trust Turns To Rust!

'Head of Communications, Chief Economist Royal Bank of Scotland' how would you like that as a job title, or even on your CV? Well, yesterday I met the current incumbent and what a refreshing and surprising experience it was!

When I saw the agenda for the latest network meeting for the SCEL (Scottish College for Educational Leadership) Fellowship programme my first reaction was something like, 'aye, right, what's this guy going to be able to say about leadership that is going to have any credibility?' I assumed he would come into the room stoop-shouldered, with the cares of the world almost visible on his shoulders. I was wrong. Never assume! Dr Andrew McLaughlin hails from Ayrshire, has played and coached football for many years, and likes to quote Burns, in addition to his responsibilities at RBS. He's a youthful 45 year old, has a family and obviously loves his job, and all the challenges it presents. Don't you always find people who love what they are do…