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Showing posts from March, 2016

Let's stop doing CPD!

Obviously, I made the title of this post deliberately provocative, but there is a truth that I feel lies behind it. For too long we have seen Continuous Professional Development (CPD) as a matter of going on various courses and doing lots of 'things' to enhance our understandings and our expertise as teachers. Sometimes, we would identify these activities ourselves and, if you are in Scotland, use our CPD allowance to be able to attend them. Other times, they would be identified by senior management or the local authority as activities we needed to engage in. I personally hate the term 'manadtory', and I would only apply this to Child Protection training, and some Health and Safety training.
 All such CPD activities usually had to be signed off by the headteacher before you went, but not often were you required to explain, or show evidence, how they impacted on your practice, or on your learners, when you had completed them. I went on lots of such courses and events, an…

Finding your voice and developing confidence to let it be heard

I took part in Twitter chat on Friday evening with colleagues from across Scotland and beyond. This was #scotedchat, and has become a regular engagement on a Thursday evening, when I have nothing else on. I really enjoy these opportunites to engage with other educators as we explore some common issues and themes. This week's chat was focused on how and why we use social media and blogging to develop our thinking and our practice, and to promote collaboration. As usual, it was an interesting and thought provoking chat as contributors spoke of, and shared, their own views and experiences of using Twitter, other social media, and Blogs to enhance their own professional development.
An issue I raised, and which other contributors expressed as a common feeling for themselves, was the reluctance of many teachers and school leaders to either think their views had validity, or to be prepared to put them out there on public forums like Twitter or express them through Blogs. This set me thin…

On raising attainment and closing gaps

There is much talk across international education systems about the need to raise attainment and to close gaps, especially for those at risk because of deprivation factors. Everybody has an opinion on this. Some of this opinion is informed and some of it is not, based instead on personal views and political ideology. In Scotland we are seeing a pretty typical response to these two conundrums. I give you the National Improvement Framework, the NIF as it is now know as we rush headlong into using yet another acronym in education. The NIF is the First Minister's top down response to what she sees as the issue and her own take on the solution. This is a route followed by many other countries and systems around the world, including USA, Australia, England and Sweden. This route is high on accountability and testing, and low on research or evidence to show it actually works. In fact the evidence would seem to show that in the countries mentioned attainment has gone down and gaps have wi…

I may have underestimated culture and ethos

For a long time I have tweeted and written about the importance of culture and ethos in schools. 'Everything stands and falls on culture and ethos' sort of thing. I am now beginning to think I may have been underselling culture and ethos. For the last couple of months one of the schools I lead has been host to most of a neighbouring school following the destruction of part of their school by storm Desmond in December. This has given me the perfect opportunity to consider differences and similarities in schools. What I have observed in that time is that, though their pupils and their staff look  like any of the pupils and staff from our own school, they are different. Not just individually different, which you might expect, but collectively different. I am not saying that either is better by the way, I am just noting that they are different. The biggest reason why I think the collective body of pupils and staff are different is to do with the culture and ethos of both settings,…