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Showing posts from January, 2016

School leadership, why should it be different to system leadership?

Having been a school leader for many years now, I have developed my practice and understanding of what really works in school leadership. I have engaged in lots of leadership professional development opportunities, have read plenty of research, have engaged in dialogue with colleagues and have developed a host of tacit skills and understandings that all helped shape my practice. In short, I think I have got a pretty good handle on what works in effective school leadership. 
My main role, as I see it, is to create the conditions and culture that allows each and everyone of the teachers in the schools I lead to thrive and develop their own understandings and practice, in order to produce better outcomes for each and every one of our learners. To achieve this, school leaders need to create a culture and ethos built on trust and driven by values. They have to support all staff to innovate, and for them to know that they will be there, still in a supportive role, when staff make mistakes to…

Things ain't what they used to be! A school's tale.

Once there was a school, and this school liked to do lots of things. The headteacher did lots of things. The teachers did lots of things. The support staff did lots of things. The learners did lots of things. This was a busy school. Visitors to the school said how wonderful it was that they could see so many things happening. Sometimes, the visitors gave the school more things to do. People came to see the school and all the wonderful things they were doing.
But something was wrong. This was not a happy school. The headteacher was not happy. The teachers were not happy. The support staff were not happy. The learners were not happy. 'What's wrong?' asked the headteacher. 'I don't know,' he said as he shook his head. 'We are doing all these things, and yet I am still not happy.' So he asked the teachers. 'What' wrong?' They said, 'we have too many things to do.' He asked the support staff. 'What's wrong?' They said, 'we …

Command and control and accountability agendas and the impact on all learners

If, like me, you believe that personal, professional and school development is dependent on a culture and ethos that recognises, supports this, and which is built on trust, where does this leave us in a prevalent culture that is focused on comand, control and accountability agendas? 
We need to be encouraging and supporting our teachers to innovate and be continually examining and developing their practice. I spoke with a couple of teachers recently who were saying to me that they were desperate to innovate and try new things, but the culture within their schools was working against them in this. They described a school leadership style which was very directive, kept adding to their workload as new directives came from outside the school, and which was looking for the same characteristics of practice in every teacher. Does this sound familiar? I was hoping such cultures were diminishing and disappearing, but I'm afraid they may be on the rise again as school leaders themselves face…

Where are we now with practitioner enquiry?

Anyone who has been reading my blog posts for any length of time will know that the schools I work in have been using practitioner enquiry approaches for professional and school development for some time now. In fact, we are now well into the seventh year of using such approaches. Don't ask me where the time has gone, but I suppose it is the same for all of us. I am about to speak to another couple of cohorts of teachers who are keen to adopt enquiry approaches to their professional development and this has caused me to reflect and look back over our journey and where we are now. 
Our journey began seven years ago and was driven by our desire to connect, and make sense of everything we were being asked to do in our schools, and with our dissatisfaction with CPD activities we had been engaged in up to that point. Teachers were feeling overwhelmed by all the 'things' they were being asked to address, many associated with the 'new' Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) being…