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Showing posts from February, 2016

A watershed for Scottish Education

Late in 2015 the OECD released its report on the review of Scottish education, 'Improving Schools in Scotland: An OECD Perspective'. This report, commissioned by the Scottish Government and after they had drafted their National Improvement Framework (NIF), described Scottish Education as facing a 'watershed moment.' The authors praised many aspects of the direction of travel over the last ten years and more of the Scottish system. Surprisingly they seemed to also endorse the NIF. I say surprisingly for two reasons. One was that two of the four man team who visited Scotland were Andy Hargreaves and Helen Timperley, two researchers and writers on education and educational systems that I have much respect for. The second was because the NIF seems to myself and others within the Scottish system to be flying in the face of everything that Curriulum for Excellence stands for and represents, and with which they were so obviously impressed by. It could be that they didn't …

Stephen Ball looks at the NIF and gives Scotland a few warnings about the future

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a seminar by professor Stephen Ball at Glasgow University. He was talking to an audience of educators, academics and others, and was there to share some of his reflections on education systems that might be tempted to be driven by assessment, and some concerns he had for the current direction of travel in the Scottish system.

As he laid out the aspects he wished to consider he was keen for us to understand that assessment in itself was not a problem. He did caution though that assessment in Scotland, whilst 'not a bad thing may be a dangerous thing.' He explained why this might be so. He firstly thought it was right that Scotland, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, should look to other countries and their education systems in order to learn. He did have some concern however in where she had been looking, and what she had been seeing and hearing. He had detected in the recently introduced National Improvement Framework (NIF) a move in…

Explaining practitioner enquiry to those who cannot see

In the last twelve months I have been asked by various people to justify our focus on practitioner enquiry as the main vehicle on our professional and school development journey. The questions usually go along the lines of: 'What has been the impact of practitioner enquiry for your learners?' 'How does practitioner enquiry help your school improvement plan?' 'Why do let teachers all do different things when they carry out an enquiry?' 'What will I see when I go in a classroom to show practitioner enquiry is happening?' And, the worst of all, 'can you give me six easy steps so I can get others to take part?' At first, these questions didn't bother me, as I understood people were interested, didn't understand what practitioner enquiry was, and I quite liked explaining what we were doing and why. Nowadays, they tend to just pee me off! It could be my age.
The reason they raise my ire is mainly to do with the fact that the people who keep ask…

What conditions do leaders need to lead learning?

The title of this post came from a discussion I had recently with a group of colleagues. We were considering a Headteacher development day and how we might keep this focused on our main purpose, that of learning. We discussed that we wanted to focus on headteachers acting as the lead learners, and their leading of learning in their schools, and moved on to consider what were the conditions that needed to be in place to facilitate this. Unfortunately, we ran out of time before we could go much further but have arranged to meet again to discuss this again, after each of us had some time to give it a little more thought. Having been away from school, due to a local holiday, I have been able to consider this some more, and what follows are my initial thoughts ahead of further discussion.
The first thing that has to be in place is that headteachers need to recognise these roles they have, as lead learners in their school and the responsibility to lead learning. Not all do. Some delegate res…

Let it go, leadership that is!

For many years now in schools we have struggled with the vexed question of distributed leadership. Generally, this is seen as a good thing, and desirable, and encourages us to flatten the hierarchies of leadership control that have traditionally existed in schools across the globe. No longer should leadership reside with one or two visionary people who's job titles and remits expressly describe leadership as a key function. e.g. Headteacher, deputy-headteacher, principal teacher, etc. For many years various education systems have encouraged school leaders to see leadership as a responsibility of all, and that we need to provide the conditions that enable all staff to step up to the plate and lead on various whole-school developments. 'After all, everyone is a leader of learning in their own class' is the often used repost when some question whether everyone wants to, or can lead, in a school. Personally, I have believed for a long time that the qualities that one looks for…

Da Da Da Data

I was thinking about an old Police song today, as I considered the current massive focus on data and its use in education. The Police song is actually called 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da' and you can watch them perform it here.
Interesting that it has 'do' before 'da', which reflects how I feel about data and how we use it. We need to do something, carry out actions, in order to generate data, not start with the data and shape our actions to improve it. Data is important to schools and their leaders and we gather a whole suite of holistic data about how schools and teachers are doing, and on our impact for learners. Teachers do exactly the same, day in and day out, as they seek to understand where their learners are in their learning, and the impact they as teachers are having on that learning.
If you were to see some of the press releases and statements that have accompanied the introduction of the new National Improvement …